No One is in Jail on Nashville, a Great Nighttime Soap

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

Connie Britton (left) and Hayden Panettiere in Nashville

What’s to write about?   Everyone on General Hospital is in jail, or should be. Sonny has finally been arrested for the murder of A.J. Quartermaine. Carly and Duke are there, too, for helping Sonny cover up the killing.  Heather is in jail and presumably will be transported back to Ferncliff.  Franco and Nina aren’t in jail, but should be for kidnapping Ava’s baby.   And so should Ava, for the long ago murder of Connie.

So this week, let’s go somewhere new. Do you watch Nashville on ABC? It’s my favorite nighttime soap, and I’ll bet a lot of daytime soap fans agree.

Nashville is everything a daytime soap producer might imagine in his/her wildest dreams. For openers,   it’s a superlative job of world-building, capturing as it does with such impeccable authenticity the world of today’s Nashville, Tennessee – a thoroughly modern metropolis of the New South that also occupies a fabled position in our popular culture as the home of our uniquely American country music industry.

It’s not entirely fair, of course, to compare this weekly primetime juggernaut, with its audience of nine million and per episode budget of $4 million, with daytime soap opera’s five-days-per week worlds-without-end marathon. But it’s not the glitz and glamor and the fabulous music that make Nashville so compelling. It’s the series’ old-fashioned heart and soul of family drama – intersecting stories of love gained and lost, striving broken spirits who cry out and sometimes lash out in pain, and ambition both triumphant and failed, all at the confluence of family and fame.

Behind it all is the flow of creativity that all the characters share, the desire to make music that is their own. This becomes a struggle that infuses all the story lines, a battle between artistic honesty and fakery that is not unlike life itself.

Nashville is built around the world of Rayna Jaymes, a storied country superstar whose career is on down the line, as they say, at the point where she needs and wants to take charge. She does so by launching her own record label, the demands of which clash painfully with her other lives, as mother, wife and conflicted lover. Connie Britton plays her so truthfully, we can easily believe there is a real Rayna, right up there with Tammy and Loretta and Reba.

Rayna is divorced from Nashville’s slick mayor Teddy (Eric Close), engaged to fellow country superstar Luke Wheeler (the equally believable Will Chase), yet continually crossing paths with the man who surely will always be the love of her life, the alcoholic fabled guitarist/songwriter Deacon Claybourne, played by Charles Esten, who surely is the most attractive man on television.  Rayna and Deacon were lovers long ago and even have a daughter out of wedlock.  They have tried to rekindle their love on several occasions, but it’s just not right. I admire greatly that these characters are all truly adults, trying to honor their choices and do the right thing for their families and children. And all without saccharine.

Nashville’s parallel story line follows the fortunes of Juliette Barnes, one super self-centered hellion of a country/pop upstart from hardscrabble roots who launches herself as Rayna’s competition, becomes her nemesis, then her partner, then the object of public scorn. She’s played brilliantly by daytime alum Hayden Panettiere, who grew up on soaps on Guiding Light and One Life to Live.

Panettiere may be the bravest woman ever on television or in film. Rene Zellwegger deserved the kudos she earned for gaining weight for the title role in Bridget Jones Diary, and Panettiere goes her one better. In real life, Panettiere really is pregnant and has gained the usual pounds. Her Juliette is pregnant, too, proudly looking the part without either slimming camera tricks or insulting fat suit. A real woman playing a real woman. How refreshing.

There’s a whole bushel of intersecting secondary stories, each populated by superb acting talent to die for. These include Jonathan Jackson as aspiring songwriter Avery Barkley, father of Juliet’s baby. (You may recognize him from GH, where he grew up playing Lucky Spencer.)  Wonderful, too, are Clare Bowen as Deacon’s talented songwriter niece Scarlett, Sam Palladio as her ex Gunnar Scott, one time songwriting partner who belatedly learns he has a six year old son, and Chris Carmack as Will Lexington, a closeted country hunk who has made it big and is terrified he’ll be found out. What unites them is the steady stream of their soul-revealing music.

All of this is the work of Callie Khouri, who brought smart, flawed and therefore true-life women to the big screen in Thelma and Louise, now a classic. There’s nary a misstep in her Nashville, not a single thing I would change, not a moment when I want to look away from the screen. That is remarkable for such a broad and complex canvas. But Nashville doesn’t feel complex. Its storylines flow together like the lyrics of a country story song.

If you haven’t been tuning in – which I doubt – catch up somehow. You’ll be glad you did.

Heavenly November Sweeps Performances on The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital

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

It’s been quite an eventful November sweeps so far.  Stories built over the course of a year or more usually reach their apexes if not their conclusions  over sweeps months (February, May, November) and writers plot their most dramatic action to stretch over these months.   This November’s star plots on The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital varied in quality but mostly  offered actors who pulled out all the stops and gave their best, sometimes Emmy-worthy performances during the month. Let’s partake of the feast:

The Young and the Restless — This was finally the month that Sharon’s long held secret – that she had switched the DNA results and Summer was really Nick’s biological daughter, not Jack’s as all had believed for the last year — was disclosed.  It was Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) who forced Sharon (Sharon Case) to disclose her lie on the very staircase where Phyllis had taken a fall, resulting in a coma that lasted a year. Tognoni (once Kelly on One Life to Live) was particularly forceful here, full of rage and tears, all aimed at Sharon.  Also giving a fine and very affecting  performance was Peter Bergman, whose Jack tearfully and shockingly found out that Summer wasn’t his natural daughter after all.

The Bold and the Beautiful — This is the month Eric picked his successor as CEO of Forrester Fashions.  His first choice was his son Ridge — until model Maya disclosed at a board meeting that Ridge had been kissing his sister-in-law and design collaborator, Caroline, who is Rick’s wife on the sly.  Jacob Young gave a particularly sympathetic and believable performance full of great depth as the betrayed Rick, as did Linsey Godfrey as the shattered Caroline.  Thorsten Kaye showed what a bastard normally good guy sly Ridge could be by brushing off responsibility for his amorous action.  Rick was finally chosen CEO.

General Hospital GH took us through several weeks when secrets were disclosed all over the place.   Roger Howarth was just delicious as Franco exposed his bride Carly mid-wedding ceremony as a cheat and a liar.  Carly had covered up the fact that Sonny killed his adopted son’s natural father A.J.  Laura Wright was extremely harrowing as the betrayed Carly, as was the even more betrayed and shocked Michael.  Chad Duell has been giving the performance of his GH career in this plot denouement   Also very good has been the always dependable  Robin Mattson, whose escaped criminal mental patient  Heather got mixed up in the almost wedding and held several characters including  Jordan and Sean hostage.  But best of all was long time acting couple Finola Hughes and Ian Buchanan, as police chief Anna had to arrest her lover Duke for covering up Sonny’s presence at A.J.’s murder.  These two actors always shine together, but were particularly effective and heavenly here.

And November sweeps isn’t even half over yet.

General Hospital: Where is the Love?

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

“Where is the love?”  This is a famous soap world quote from the late beloved headwriter Doug Marland (As the World Turns, etc.) spoken when he used to look at other soaps and find anything but.   This question can now be most fairly asked of General Hospital, once a good soap opera but now nothing more than a bunch of plot manipulations, double crosses and characters with anything else but love on their minds.

Take Franco and Carly, who supposedly “love”  one another.  When minister Lucy asked Franco during the wedding ceremony if he’d take Carly as his wife, he said, “Definitely not.  She’s a lying, cheating whore.”  Franco picked that “romantic”’ moment to disclose that he knows Carly has been cheating all along with her ex-husband Sonny.  Before the ceremony, Carly had accused Franco of hiding the truth that he tapped into her computer while Nicholas was secretly hiding out at their house.

Then there’s Sonny, who supposedly loves Carly.  Who he really loves is himself, and his whole motivation these days has been plotting to keep secret (and not get arrested for) the fact that he killed A.J. Quartermaine for killing his fiancé Connie (Ava really did it).  He has done everything he could to keep the truth from his son Michael (A.J’s biological son.)  He has also plotted to kill Franco who knows he murdered A.J.   Sonny was going to try to frame Heather for the murder of Franco.  But Heather overpowered hitman Sean when she kidnapped and tied up his lady love Jordon.

Will Sonny beat the law this time?  We bet not, as police chief Anna is finally on to the fact that Sonny killed A.J.  We bet he’ll be arrested soon.

Sonny also plotted to kill an expectant Ava as soon as she delivers the baby that is either his or his son Morgan’s.  In a related plot that is anything but a celebration of love, psychotic Nina Clay is now holding Ava hostage and has just injected her with both a paralytic drug and a drug which induces labor.  Nina, in cahoots with her mother Madeline, plans to take Ava’s baby once it is delivered and keep it as her own.   This is to get back at Ava for her long-ago affair with Nina’s husband Silas   There has rarely been a soap opera character who is less full of love as a motive than crazy Nina.

Speaking of, to get Dr. Silas’ current attention away from her, Nina had Madeline seize Danny’s  medical records and change them to look like his leukemia has returned.  What an ugly moment for GH, and especially for poor Danny’s mother Sam!   Silas is finally onto Nina and is now searching for her, as she is holding mother- to-be Ava hostage and injecting her with all kinds of drugs.

General Hospital, where is the love indeed?

Ivy and Caroline: Two Fascinating Women to Watch on The Bold and the Beautiful

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

Ashleigh Brewer

Before we begin, I’d like to thank the many of you who wrote in with good wishes for my continued good health.  I’m feeling much better now and was greatly bolstered, not just by notes from so many readers but also by the shout-outs from long ago friends and former soap world colleagues.  It’s great to know that good feelings of friendship persist despite the fact that we haven’t been in touch in years.  Cheers! And now to business:

Ivy from Down Under

I’m greatly cheered by the appearance on The Bold and the Beautiful of a truly 21st century independent and strong woman character, who doesn’t owe anything to anyone and exists solely because she is intelligent and strong. She’s Ivy Forrester, the Aussie Forrester cousin and jewelry designer who has been slowly introduced on the show of late.  She’s played with great vivacity and savvy by Ashleigh Brewer, a veteran of Australia’s Home and Away soap opera.

When Ivy first appeared on the scene, brought in to take over the jewelry arm of Forrester creations from that liar and cheat Quinn Fuller, she faced the chore of getting to know all her Forrester relatives, most of whom worked at the firm.   She got to know Hope for the Future designer Hope Logan and through her one of Hope’s suitors, Liam Spencer.  Hope has been ricocheting between Liam and Wyatt Fuller, Quinn’s son, for what seems like years.

Ivy liked Liam, but instead of stealing him, she concentrated on making him a good friend.  It’s Liam who rescued Ivy when Quinn pushed her into the Seine in Paris and that good deed has created a special bond between the two.  Ivy listened patiently as Liam bewailed  the sudden marriage of Hope and Wyatt,  and consoled him on Hope’s pregnancy.

Ivy expressed her growing romantic interest in Liam with impressive subtlety.  She threw Liam an Australian-style barbeque and invited him out to dance when he felt low.   As of now, with Hope being pregnant, it looks like Ivy has a clear shot at Liam.  But you never know, as the Liam-Hope-Wyatt triangle seems like an eternal storyline on B&B.  But whatever happens, self-confident and brainy Ivy will still be standing there. At last, a soap heroine who can truly take care of herself.

Caroline in Conflict

Speaking of soap heroines, another B&B actress, Linsy Godfrey, has been terrific of late playing one who is in a sticky position. The heroine is Caroline Forrester, wife of Forrester son and exec Rick. She is a designer at Forrester creations. Since Ridge’s accident in which he lost the inability to draw and design, Caroline has been helping him out by collaborating on designs.  But Ridge and Caroline have slowly been developing romantic feelings for each other, forbidden since Ridge is engaged to Katie and Caroline is married to Rick.     

Godfrey has done a wonderful job of playing Caroline’s inner conflict, which isn’t easy because the handsome and charismatic Ridge is a very attractive man to Caroline.  For now, Caroline has chosen to stay with Rick.  But now that Maya has publicly spilled the secret that Caroline and Ridge have kissed in the past, that relationship should grow more complicated.  We’re always hooked on forbidden soap romances! 

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.