Marlena Is Back – And Needs A Little Help From Her Friends

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

Peter Bergman, still smilin’ through. But what about the other guy?

Bonjour, mes amis! Je suis retourné!  Marlena was ill for a while, but I’m recovering and happy to report for duty. The only problem is, I took a short hiatus from watching soaps during my down time. Now, I’m reemerging with many questions. It’s amazing how much soaps can change in just a few short months.

So I have a favor to ask of you, my faithful thinking readers. Can you help me fill in the gaps in some storylines? If you’ll send in your answers to the following questions as comments on this column, I’ll comment on your comments and we’ll have a grand old time talking about soaps, our favorite subject, as we have for so many years. In advance, merci beaucoups.

A Tale of Two Jacks

Why are there two Jacks on The Young and Restless?  Of course, double characters and twins are as old as soaps themselves.  But two Jack Abbotts?  This one really threw me.  One is ol’ Smilin’ Jack and the other is Marco Annicelli, a big drug dealer.  Who is this Marco and how did he become Jack? Moreover, how in the world did Jack’s love, wife Phyllis, not know she was sleeping with an imposter? Isn’t that … bizarro?  And while we’re at it, who is this Marisa (Sofia Pernas) and how did she get mixed up in this two Jacks debacle? Most importantly, are you all having fun with this, or not?

Certainly Peter Bergman has enough talent to play a double, so this is not a comment on him. But this just seems another hollow trick by headwriter Charles Pratt, master manipulator of nonsensical plots.  But please don’t get me started on Pratt until a future column.

Too smart for their own good?

Why did so many good, brainy characters get written off or killed off in the time I was gone?  I am furious that Y&R did not pick up the contract of  Jessica Collins, who played Avery Bailey Clark.  Avery was what all soaps need, namely a very intelligent woman.  She was a lawyer with a cause, The Innocence  Project.  Yet Y&R chose to have her ex Joe Clark (Scott Elrod) beat her up, motivating her to flee the town. I miss her!

And then there’s the murder of Dr. Silas Clay (Michael Easton) on General Hospital.  Soft-spoken though he was, he was a voice of intelligence and reason, saving Danny and Josslyn in life and death situations.  Yet, there he was stabbed in the back with a butcher knife. This is a soap called General Hospital after all and it needs as many doctors as possible.  I know that in the interim the show’s old head writer Ron Carlivati got fired and Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante have been hired.  I have all faith in Altman and Passanante, both of whom have long sheets of soap credits, the last of which was Y&R  before Pratt came in.

So how to do feel about the fled and the dead?

They Enriched the Days of Old, and Now They’re Back!

How did Days of Our Lives get so good?  I am the first to confess that I haven’t been a Days watcher for years.  Yet I grew up glued to Days on the 60s, 70s and early 80s and adored the show when that genius, the late James E. Reilly, was writing it in the 90s.

But now, as the show’s 50th anniversary looms this November, new headwriters Josh Griffith and Dena Highley are bringing back the spirit of the show I cut my soap teeth on.  All of a sudden there’s the reappearance of the old show’s central stars.  Bo (Peter Reckell) and Patch (Stephen Nichols) are back and I find myself interested in the show again.  And there’s more. They’re bringing back Thaao Penghlis, who played that great baddie  Tony DiMera as well Tony’s evil cousin Andre. I can’t wait! And, joy of joys, they’ve signed Marlena’s old favorite Vincent Irizarry to a contract as Demios.   Oh how I loved his Lujack and Nick on Guiding Light, his Dr. Scott Clark on Santa Barbara and  his David Hayward on All My Children! Plus, they’ve already brought on the fabulous A. Martinez as Eduardo!  Most notably, Martinez played  Cruz Castillo on Santa Barbara. I can’t wait to watch this show again! Tell me if I’m right.

So write to me, Thinking Fans, and let’s have a glorious reunion!


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


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.


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)


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.

The Bold and the Beautiful: Maya/Myron is a Transgender Person


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

To commemorate The Bold and the Beautiful’s 28th anniversary last Wednesday, executive producer and headwriter Bradley P. Bell staged a daytime soap cliffhanger that is the shock of the soap century: revealing that Maya Avant (Karla Mosley) is really Myron, a transgender person.  She was born a man.

You go, Bradley!

Karla Mosley: Her Maya Avant revealed to be transgender

Maya is a model at Forrester Creations and the live-in love of Rick Forrester (Jacob Young). The couple currently hosts the Forrester Mansion.  It was in the living room at the end of last Wednesday’s episode that Maya’s sister Nicole (Reign Edwards) told Maya that she is not her sister but her brother.  Wowsa!  What a beginning to a storyline!  The episode  trended on Twitter immediately!  B&B had managed to keep this stunning reveal top secret. Miraculously, there had been absolutely no spoilers!

Maya/Myron is not daytime’s first transgender character, contrary to what The Daily Mail (England’s gossipy newspaper/website) reported this week.  That honor belongs to Azure C (Carlotta Chang) on The City.  And then there’s Zarf /Zoe on All My Children.  I loved Wendy Mercury (played by herself) the transgender bartender on One Life to Live.  The great and mighty headwriter Claire Labine (Ryan’s Hope, General Hospital) created Wendy in 1997 in collaboration with her sub-writer children Eleanor Mancusi and Matthew Labine.

In real life, Wendy was/is an opera singer who back then acted by day and performed by night at an infamous drag club and restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan called Lucky Chang’s. She is just superb!

Maya/Myron is of course an homage to Myra Breckinridge, the 1968 novel by the late Gore Vidal that became a movie in 1970. Vidal was a noted author, playwright, satirist, raconteur and television personality with a taste for the flamboyantly shocking.  His sexually explicit, luridly campy tale of a man who becomes a woman amid the sleazy culture of behind-the-scenes Hollywood was considered high scandal in its day.

Myra/Myron was film’s first transgender person, played in the equally explicit and truly awful movie version (some say the worst film of all time) by Raquel Welch, then hottest thing on the screen. It also co-starred the iconic Mae West (“Come up and see me sometime”) as Letitia Van Allen, a sexually voracious Hollywood agent with a four-poster bed in her office. It was the first movie for a very young and hunky Tom Selleck, before  he made his breakthrough soap role on The Young and the Restless as Jed Andrews during that soap’s premiere year, 1973. In the movie, Selleck was billed simply as “Stud.”

Y&R was  the first soap to focus on young people. It was co-created by the late legendary  Bill  Bell and his wife Lee Phillip Bell.  They are the parents of Bill Jr, Bradley and Lauralee (Christine/Cricket Williams) and the co-creators of B&B as a spinoff  to Y&R in 1987.

Raquel Welch as Myra Breckinridge

Of course Vidal’s Myra/Myron was created to sell the novel and the movie.  She was a phenomenon of the late 60s just as the as mores of Hollywood were quickly changing. Old taboos were falling everywhere, and the book and movie were emblematic of a new era of sexual explicitness that would have seemed impossible just a few short years earlier. Myra/Myron, book and movie, brought in audiences by the zillions, just as Vidal planned.

And that’s exactly what Bradley P. Bell and CBS Daytime want Maya as a her/him to do for B&B, which already is the most popular soap opera worldwide. B&B doesn’t need to do this.  But they did it.  How high will the ratings spike for this week?  For B&B, CBS and Bradley Bell, the sky is the limit!

This is not to disparage the subject of transgender identity and the very real issues it poses for many people who want and deserve society’s respect. GLAAD, the leading advocate in the media for gays, lesbians and transgender people, has come forward in support of  this ostensibly ground-breaking storyline. Okay, but with all due respect to this worthy organization, this is not really such a groundbreaker for soaps. It will succeed or fail in proportion to how genuinely sensitive and realistic it is. Otherwise, it’s just another stunt.


Big Changes at Marlena and Five More Passover Questions

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

We’ve made some changes here at in an effort to upgrade our service to you, our Thinking Fans. We’ve added a search box, all the better to help you locate what we’re had to say in the past about your favorite soaps and their characters, casts and storylines. And we’re added list of links to our fellow soap opera sites and others we think may interest you, a list that is likely to grow. There’s more to come, as this site continues to evolve. As you know, darlings, Marlena has been and always will be all about you, the soap fans and faithful readers loves ever do dearly.  It makes my day to get your comments to this column. We’re here to serve you, always!

Toujours l’amour!

Five More Passover Questions

1.  Remember Jewish Jake Meyer (Sam Behrens) the lawyer on General Hospital? Adored him! Happy Passover and Happy Easter! Wasn’t Behrens great with Jackie Zeman (Bobbie Spencer)?

Jackie Zeman, 39 years and counting!

Isn’t Zeman being her usual timeless self in the Luke/Fluke story?  Thirty-nine years in soaps!  She was a sensation in her soap premiere role Lana McClain on One Life to Live in 1976, and, after all these sensational years, she’s a soap icon today.

2.  Speaking of, how much do we all miss OLTL and my fave soap of all time, All My Children? Viva forever Agnes Nixon, their creator and the greatest writer of all time, along with her mentor Irna Phillips, the mother of daytime soap opera. Miss my Agnes, who is 88 now. She is a mother to us all!  Those soaps we miss so sorely were her children, you know! In addition to her four real children and numerous grandchildren.

3.  Two four six eight, who do we appreciate? Two time Emmy winner Maura West (Ava Jerome, GH; ex Carly Manning, As the World Turns)! She deserves this year’s and next year’s Emmys for her work as Ava. I like her better than her Carly, and Carly was immortal.  Of course Ava, who was given a terminal cancer prognosis by Dr. Silas Clay (Michael Easton) is going to live.

4.  Didn’t the ever handsome (those dimples!) and sublimely talented Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos GH, also a Emmy winner) look like an impressionist painter with the beard? So glad he shaved it this week!

5.  Who isn’t sick of GH’s amnesiac Jake Doe/Jason Quartermaine? I certainly am! He’s on every day, and stays, and stays, and stays. Even the superb Emmy winner Billy Miller (ex-Billy Abbot, The Young and the Restless) who plays him can’t keep this interesting. At this point, I just don’t care whether or not he is with Elizabeth Webber (Rebecca Herbst)!

Six Passover Questions

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

1.  Isn’t it a shame that CBS Daytime (The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful) is going retro just for ratings? Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) and NeIl (Kristoff St. John) running over pregnant Christine (Lauralee Bell) on Y&R? She sadly had a miscarriage. Running over a soap character is so ancient and revolting!

2.  Victor (Eric Braeden) revealed as a Catholic in oh so dated confession scenes! Religion again on daytime soaps! What about the Jews? Remember Jewish character Nora Hannon Buchanan on One Life to Live, played by the mighty Emmy winner Hillary B. Smith? Miss her!

3.  Wasn’t the highlight of the whole week when Ryan’s Hope character Delia Reid Ryan (Ilene Kristen) now revived on General Hospital sang  “Danny Boy” service to baby Avery at Ava’s (Maura West) memorial?  This is just before Ava revealed herself to her mother as still being alive.  “Danny Boy” is of course what Maeve Ryan (the great Helen Gallagher) used to sing to beleaguered characters.  It was the trademark of the show.  And here’s a hug for Claire Labine who, along with the late Paul Avila Mayer, was the co-creators/headwriter of RH.  Irish forever!   Did you know the Ryans were modeled on Claire’s real family?  She still is and always will be a daytime legend.

4.  Isn’t it incredible (and truly careless head writing by Ron Carlivati) to have so many General Hospital characters pardoned all within a few weeks of one another? Murderers Sonny (Maurice Benard), Jake (Billy Miller), Julian (William de Vry) who didn’t really do it, and Anna (Finola Hughes), who was pardoned off-screen. Ava is next! Yes, and even police chief Sloane (Grayson McCouch, ex As the World Turns and Another World), who really did do it and is corrupt as hell. How much more of him can we take? Anna in the FBI, gee!

Jacqueline MacInnes Wood

5.  On The Bold and the Beautiful isn’t perpetually bikini-clad Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) who is staying at ex-husband Liam’s (Scott Clifton)  beach house, so very sexy?  You just know Steffy will lure her ex-husband Liam away from his present love Ivy (Ashleigh Brewer).  Go Ivy!   As I’ve written, I love  Liam’s independent, truth-telling, intelligent girlfriend . She’s Marlena’s current gal.  This blog  is Soaps For the Thinking Fan, after all!

6.  Isn’t it unbelievable that Luke (Tony Geary) bit off half of Scotty’s (Kin Shriner) ear on GH, just like Sir Anthony Hopkins’ legendary Hannibal Lechter character did in Silence of the Lambs? Or Mike Tyson?  The doctors were able to repair it thankfully. For this genuine shocker, bravo Carlivati!

General Hospital: Spencer Becomes a Burn Victim

Nicolas Bechtel

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

Who could have imagined there’d be an ongoing end of sweeps storyline that is so shocking it could practically upstage the mighty and controversial six month old Luke/Fluke story on General Hospital?

But here it is: ten-year-old Spencer (Nicolas Bechtel) was severely burned on face and body this week in a fire that broke out in the living room of  Wyndemere. Thankfully, he was rescued by Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) and Patrick (Jason Thompson), but when last seen at the end of the week was in Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston.

Shriners is a real place, of course – one of a network of 22 world renowned nonprofit hospitals that specialize in treating children with burns, orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.   Initially, Spencer was taken to General Hospital, then transferred to Shriners for the advanced care he could receive there.

Shriners is partnering with ABC and GH in this storyline set in a real hospital, dramatizing the invaluable work it does for victims and their families. Thousands of children have been treated in burn units like the one Spencer currently occupies, and thousands of parents like Nikolas have been at their bedsides throughout.

I am of two minds about the entire fire story.

First of all, I am very disturbed by it.  Whatever happened to the old soap rule that you don’t do stories in which children are harmed or killed? (The rule has been broken several times in the past.) It is felt that mothers especially can’t bear to watch children being harmed.   GH must be desperate to do such a story, and that doesn’t work for such a classy show. The last time I was so disturbed by an endangered child story was in 2008 when twelve-year-old Michael Quartermaine (then Dylan Cash, now Chad Duell) bought a gun to imitate his mob boss father Sonny.

But this storyline does provide a service for the viewers that is admirable.  The storyline is great for the prestigious Shriners, which has never advertised on daytime before. And it’s even greater for GH.  This storyline, which is sprinkled with commercials for Shriners, is a public service,  and a feather in the cap  all those at the network, and especially executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati.

The fire started after Spencer’s birthday party when Cameron (Michael Leone) accidentally knocked a swag bag onto a candle as he was leaving. Emma (Brooklyn Rae Silzer) and Spencer were alone dancing and unrealistically didn’t hear the alarm or smell smoke.  Emma escaped unharmed and ran for help to her father who was elsewhere in the mansion with Nikolas. Spencer went back into the fire to get his personalized boxing robe, a gift from Sonny he had received at the party.  Part of the roof caved in and Spencer was trapped.  He suffered the burns when the fire escalated. Nikolas and Patrick found him in the nick of time and rushed him to General Hospital.

At General Hospital something very unusual happened.  Absurd chief of staff, ex-criminal Dr. Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) — the chief of staff  of General Hospital always was and should be always a good guy — was given the honor of revealing Shriners participation.  As you know, Obrecht is always the personification of evil — until now.  I was shocked.

This storyline was designed as well to capitalize on the talent of the Bechtel, a child actor I have praised in the past.  This charmed child can do anything, comedy or drama.  Of course, the story wouldn’t work without Christopher.  He is always so natural.  I love their father and son scenes together, especially in this storyline. They are so powerful. Near the end of the week there was a scene in which Nicolas assured Spencer that the Shriners doctor would help him recover. I cried!

So this week, I will continue to watch the Spencer is burned story with tissue in hand.  As intended!

For more information about Shriners Hospitals for Children and how to make donations, click here.

The Young and the Restless: Marlena says, “You, Sir, Are No Irwin Allen!”

Jess Walton’s Jill has survived the Y&R plane crash

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

It’s way too early to judge the work of The Young and the Restless’ new executive producer Charles Pratt Jr. We’re familiar with his resume (head writer/executive/producer of All My Children, General Hospital, Santa Barbara and Sunset Beach, primetime producer of Melrose Place et al.) But he’s only been on the Y&R  job seven weeks. Even so, there are some early hints: This past week, the controversial Pratt launched four sweeps month stunt plots simultaneously in a snow storm!  Before we discuss them, however, let’s review Y&R’s week-old disaster plot action:

Plane Crash:  A plane flies to Chicago with a secretly blind Neil, his wife Hilary, his son Devon, Jill, Colin, Cane and Lily on board.  Neil announces to all that he is  not blind anymore and he knows Hilary and Devon are in love and having an affair because he secretly witnessed them sleeping together while they  thought Neil was blind. Neil has something undisclosed in his briefcase. Suddenly, the plane crashes and all survive on the ground unharmed except for Hilary, who is severely injured and comatose.  She periodically wakes up.  Devon goes off to find help.  Neal vanishes.

Building Collapse:  At the Undergound, Victor finds out Nikki is drinking again and confronts her.  The building the Underground is in collapses with Victor, Jack, Nikki, Phyllis, Avery, Joe, Nick and Sage trapped inside. In the rubble, all are unharmed except Jack who is severely injured and comatose but who periodically wakes up.  Victor rescues Jack with CPR. Nikki, Phyllis and Avery escape while help arrives.   Victor and Jack are trapped in the basement. A semi-comatose Jack, who has secretly known Victor’s dead son Adam is alive, utters the word “Adam” and Victor knows something crucial is up.

I Know What You Did Last Summer: On Valentine’s Day Abby inexplicably invites Kevin, the young marrieds Summer and Austin along with Mariah, Courtney, Noah and Fen to a cabin in the woods.  Fen secretly spikes the punch. Everyone collapses and then wakes up.  Austin falls out of the armoire, presumably dead.  All are accused, but especially Summer. Abby is suddenly disclosed kissing Austin the night before while Mariah confronts her. Outside, Austin’s body vanishes. The youths convene to discuss what to tell the police. Will they get their story straight? Did Austin fake his own death? Ho hum!

The Towering Inferno:  A fire suddenly breaks out at Lakeview Towers in lovers Chelsea and Billy’s apartment. Chelsea and all believe Chelsea’s late husband  Adam is dead, but the audience knows Adam is alive and secretly masquerading as Gabe. Sage and Adam/Gabe live next store to Billy and Chelsea  but  are absent when the fire starts.   Chelsea escapes with Katie and Johnny. Billy remains in the burning apartment with Connor. Billy is periodically comatose but wakes up.  Adam/Gabe arrives and rescues Connor  but leaves his enemy Billy in the smoke.  Later he returns and rescues Billy.  When last seen, Adam and Billy are escaping the burning building.

Oy vey!  Can you say overkill? The four disaster plots are achingly piled on.  Every daytime soap headwriter interweaves character storylines and hypes them in some shocking manner for sweeps month, but this is way too much of a fun thing.  A great role model for Pratt would be the late, great headwriter Jim Reilly (Days of Our Lives), a master creative genius at stunts, who was always original and never dreamed of doing his vastly entertaining and oft- hilarious sweeps stunt plots more than  one at a time.

Worse I’m incredibly annoyed that Pratt is copying his 2008-9 All My Children debut.  On that show, after his debut under the umbrella of a stunt tornado story, Pratt set the world’s soap stunt record with six, count’em six, starring such characters as Kendall, Bianca and Zach. Pratt’s entire AMC stint was much despised. .

Clearly Pratt’s muse for all of this is the late Irwin Allen, creator such 1970s classics as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, all of them unabashedly cheesy, over-the-top movie fun. His name identifies the disaster movie genre embraced by so many imitators then and since. But even Allen, who pioneered the burning set and the rock and roll camera to simulate thunderous explosions and building collapse, confined his story-telling to one disaster at a time. His formula called for intersecting human dramas of marriages saved and parents and children reconciled played out against the disaster du jour, in a world saved ultimately by heroic first responders and the selfless sacrifice of military personnel who die trying to save people.

Sentimental, exciting, romantic, heart-warming and even a bit tear-jerky. Pratt provides dollops of all these elements, and evidently the stew is tasty to some viewers – he did well in the coveted 18-34 ratings category two weeks ago.

But for moi, a soap must have some grounding in real life to be believable, and these unoriginal plots don’t make it. Pratt throws in everything including the kitchen sink, much of it disconnected and out of the blue. For example, this week, apropos of nothing, Police assistant Kevin in the cabin plot revealed he is also a short story writer who has written a story with a murder scenario that is similar to Austin’s death.   What?

Even worse is the fact that these multiple disaster plots are being produced by Jill Farren Phelps, who has done swell sweeps plots on six soaps. (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, Another World, One Life to Live, General Hospital and Y&R ).  Her 35 year soap career is a soap phenomenon!   While some dislike her, I’ve always admired Phelps, if not all her plots. It is she who hired Pratt for Y&R after working with him on GH.  Phelps often has exquisite taste in her hires. Time will tell if this is one of those times.

Beside Phelps, what also redeems poorly written plots like these is the high quality of the actors and the production crew. Y&R has always had some of the best!   The sets, particularly the plane crash and building collapse, are wonderfully Irwin Allen-esque.  But the disaster plots are not at all organic to past or present Y&R, as created and headwritten by the late Bill Bell, who would NEVER do stunt plots, though some have been tried since he stepped down from the show in 1998.

Overall plot-saving kudos have to go to the actors, most of whom are longtime Y&R veterans and soap superstars like Peter Bergman, Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott who play Jack, Victor and Nikki in the building collapse plot.  I’d also like to single out Kristoff St. John who is always great as Neil, but has been dynamite here and in his entire blind, wife Hilary unfaithful to Neil with his son Devon, plot.  The work of longtime vets like these and Tristan Rogers (Colin) and Jill (Jess Walton) in the plane crash plot, or Joshua  Morrow (Nick) and Gina Tognoni (Phyllis) also in the building collapse plot, or Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea) in the Towering Inferno plot, make Pratt’s stale disaster stunt plots more  palatable.

And so this week the building collapse and plane crash aftermath go on.  Will I be watching?  Yes, I can’t take my eyes off Pratt’s own four-ring circus of disaster stunt plots. They are that bad,  By the end of his entire Y&R stint, will I have to ask if has there ever been a daytime headwriter who is as creatively impoverished as Pratt?   Hope not for all our sakes!

General Hospital: The Ginormous Furor over Fluke

Is it Luke or Fluke? (Photo:

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

In many, many years, there hasn’t been a soap controversy of the magnitude of the furor over the year-old  “Fluke” storyline on General Hospital. While some love  it (I gave it a rave in two prior columns,  but more on that later) many really hate it.  Just look at all the negative remarks about the story on Facebook, on soap site message boards, and in the responses to my last two GH columns. (They are “Divine Soaps Plots Make GH Must See TV, Parts 1 and 2,” which ran respectively here on February 1st  and 5th.)

Viewers are sounding off that the Fluke storyline is too cartoonish, has many inconsistencies, doesn’t grow from who Luke really is., has gone on way too long, isn’t our beloved GH and on and on and on, a million other complaints. Everyone is talking about the Fluke storyline.  I even spent a full two hours last week over brunch discussing the Fluke story with my always brilliantly spoken GH fan friend  pjs, who has watched GH since its inception in 1963. The waiter gave us a really quizzical look!

As for me, I’m a bit embarrassed. Marlena believes it is her job as a critic to criticize soaps that are not character-oriented, have inconsistencies, and have characters that act out of character.  Despite its problems, I loved the story because of the continuing suspense and Tony Geary’s bravura acting.
Because of those strong elements, I was and still am entertained by the Fluke story, and have been able to forgive all the story’s transgressions.  But for how much longer will I be so charmed?

For the first time this week, I felt  tired, no longer  having the patience to  wait for the reveal of who Fluke really is when Luke, behind bars for the setting up the boat explosion (that didn’t happen) declared he was the real Luke Spencer. (Fingerprints were found – supposedly — confirming this.)

Plus, I am really confused. How could the  Luke Spencer  I’ve watched since 1980 do so many  awful  criminal things,  among them trying  to  control people (like Jake and Ava) into killing other people, committing  actual  murder himself? And endangering the lives of people the real Luke loves (his closest relatives Bobbie, Lulu and Tracy, not to mention all the other innocent passengers) by having Jake plant the bomb in the boat?  Does Luke have DID, a gimmick story most famously used on One Life to Live with the character of Victoria Lord in the 90s?  (She exhibited six personalities including that of Viki and Niki, her “split personalities”  who were periodically seen earlier on OLTL over the years.) Or, besides DID — if he has it — is there another explanation for who “Luke” really, really is?

I’ve read on message boards and heard rumors that the Fluke story is yet to continue in the next few months with Luke’s past played out, explaining the roots of his possible DID. The reliable ABC Soaps in Depth magazine reported today that  two  actors are being cast to play young Luke and Bobbie and shared that the show is looking for an actress in her late 60s who has  had a hard life. Will she be cast as    Patricia Spencer, the sister  who Bobbie  and Luke talked about only once many years ago in GH history prior to the Fluke story and has never been seen before?   Was Patricia in her younger years involved in the cause of Luke’s possible DID?

So, chers lecteurs, where is this Fluke/Luke story going?  Only those in the GH inner sanctum know for sure.  Although I have a few regrets, I’ll still be watching the story as it progresses because, despite everyone’s complaints,  I am still intrigued by it  Are you?  Will you keep watching?         

The Bold and the Beautiful: Inconsistencies and Smokin’ Seduction

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

Heather Tom: award-winning weeping

Storyline inconsistencies bother soap viewers who want their storylines to be thoroughly believable and linear (not to mention being true to a soap’s actual history).  We’ve seen plenty of them in the unfinished (as of this writing) Fluke story on General Hospital. Now I’d like to complain about one on The Bold and the Beautiful.

This week we saw divorced spouses Bill and Katie get re-engaged with Bill giving her a gigantic ring and a pledge of his forever love.  When the hell was their courtship?  When last seen Bill was madly in love with Katie’s sister Brooke, for whom he had left Katie.  Bill and Brooke would have been married if Ridge had not stolen Brooke away from the beach side ceremony in Dubai.   Bill continued his pursuit of Brooke, but Brooke told Bill to go back to Katie when Brooke left for Italy and ended up being gone many months.  During that time Katie broke up with Ridge for basically little reason.  So when did Bill fall out of his mad love for Brooke and fall in love with Katie again?  And when did Katie fall in love again with Bill?  We never saw any of this.

And isn’t Katie absolutely crazy to want to remarry her rotten ex-husband?  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know Bill wants to reunite his family with their son, Will.   As I said, Bill originally left Katie for her own sister Brooke and that was disgraceful. Hasn’t Katie grown up at all since the break-up and when did she forgive Bill?  Despite Bill and Katie’s inexplicable current happiness, I’m sure trouble is ahead because 1) Brooke is back in town now, although she’s given Katie and Bill’s engagement her blessing, and 2) multiple Emmy winner Heather Tom as Katie is so good at her trademark crying scenes.  Why Katie would want to wear Bill’s big old gaudy engagement ring is a mystery to me.  Will they really remarry?

Hot Stuff

Speaking of B&B, did you see the really, really smoking hot seduction scene in which Ridge, suddenly a painter, painted an almost nude Caroline, who posed backless in a sheet in Ridge’s modest new apartment?  Wowsa!   They kissed at the end of the episode and Monday I guess we will learn whether that kiss led to them making love.

Young Caroline and older man Ridge are together despite Steffy and Brooke’s rabid objections.  And Brooke told Deacon she plans to steal her multiple ex-husband Ridge away from Caroline. I don’t think so. Ridge is too much in love with Caroline.

Yes, this Ridge and Caroline romance might be a bit unpalatable because of the older man-younger woman thing and that Ridge was once married to Caroline’s aunt Caroline, for whom she is named.  But the always sexy as hell Thorsten Kaye and the very beautiful Linsey Godfrey have undeniable chemistry.

By the way, we’d like to wish Ms. Godfrey, who was seriously injured when a car ran into her on a sidewalk in L.A. last week, a speedy recovery.   

Divine Suspense Plots on General Hospital, Currently Must See TV — Part 2

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

Maurice Benard

I’ve said some negative things about General Hospital headwriter Ron Carlivati (particularly when he was writing One Life to Live) but in the last few months he has proven he knows well how to write soap opera.   As discussed last week in my rave over the “Fluke” storyline, he knows how to interweave plots and has been a master of creating suspense.  Let’s examine how Carlivati  has used or is using the element of suspense in other plots.

Sonny, Julian, Ava and Franco were all in jail: Sonny for the murder of A.J., Ava for the murder of Connie, Julian hiding out in jail from Fluke falsely confessing to the murder of Anthony Zaccara, and  Franco for the kidnapping of Avery, Ava’s newborn baby. Would they break out?  They did and got into a car accident.  Will they live or die?  Fluke sent Carlos and Johnny to kill them. Will they succeed?  Johnny didn’t succeed in shooting Sonny and shot and got shot by Julian.  Will Johnny survive his gun shot?   Johnny was injured and wandered off.  Where was he going?  And will he return to the show?

Carlos was sent to shoot Ava and shot her in the arm.    She fell off a bridge but lost her grip, at first hanging on a handrail but fell when Sonny tried to save her.   Will she be found?  Will she live or die?  Also, is Maura West, the best actress on the show (and arguably one of the best in daytime history, having played Carly on As the World Turns) coming back or leaving the show, as rumored?  I hope she stays because her performances are always excellent and Ava is a fascinating character.

Nathan and Michael stopped a bomb planted  in a party on the Haunted Star  by Jake on Fluke’s order just in time before it went off.   An escaped Sonny grabbed the bomb from Michael and dove into the water and it went off.  Is Sonny alive and will he be found?   Will this act of heroism exonerate him for his murder and will he stay out of jail?   There’s not much to GH   when major star Maurice Benard’s master criminal Sonny is yet again behind bars!

Amnesiac  Jake, who is really Jason but dosen’t know it, realized he is under the mind control of Helena Cassidine, who forced him to hold Sam hostage, but failed in trying to murder her and planted  the bomb on the Haunted Star.  Would he remember doing all this?  He did remember  Sam stealing a Chinese figurine Jason had given her which was found on Jason’s body.  Will Jake get his full memory back and realize he is Jason?  Will Sam figure out Jake is Jason, and what will this do to her?  How will this affect her new romance with Patrick?

Franco, who had a gun, also escaped the car crash but headed over to Shadybrook mental institution  where his mother Heather was about to inject Franco’s friend and lady love Nina with a syringe full of LSD.  Can Franco stop Heather and rescue Nina?  He did, but for some reason injected himself with the LSD.  Will Franco survive his LSD trip?  Franco and Nina kissed.   Will they have a big romance?

Questions, questions, questions!  Finding the answers compels moi to keep tuning in for fun, and not just duty. GH has certainly been divine when it comes to suspense lately!