Happy New Year: Looking Ahead to 2014

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

Thorsten Kaye: Will he still amaze in 2014?

The new year starts Wednesday, and I have many questions about what’s going to happen on our favorite shows next year. See if you might speculate on the answers, or pose some questions of your own:

1.  How is The Young and the Restless going to fill the terrible holes left by the departures of super talented Billy Miller (Billy) and Michael Muhney (Adam)?   Surely both roles will be recast.

2.  How are General Hospital ’s Patrick and Robin going to react to Sabrina being pregnant with Patrick’s child?  Quite the sticky situation.

3.  When will The Bold and the Beautiful’s Quinn and Donna have the down and dirty catfight they have been leading up to for months?  Both seem to want Eric’s love enough to draw blood to get it.

4.  On Y&R, will Jill ever find out the significance of the music box Katherine left her?

5.  On GH, will A.J. ever find out that he’s clear of Connie’s murder?  And did Ava really do it?

6.  On B&B, will Thorsten Kaye be able to sustain the tremendous acting success he’s already scored on his first few weeks of B&B? My guess, no surprise, is a resounding “Yes!”

7.  Will Spinelli ever come back to GH? Maybe he could return from Portlandia flush with New Age inspiration and open a boutique coffee bar/microbrewery to compete with Kelly’s?

8.  On Y&R, will Dylan ever accept Nikki as his mother? How long will it be until Nikki conquers her biological son’s heart?

9. On B&B, wouldn’t it be neat if Hope rejected both Liam and Wyatt and found herself a new love this year?

10. Sadly, in 2013 we witnessed the faltering of soap opera’s first great digital experiment. All My Children and One Life to Live are gone again, at least for now. Will 2014 bring us any new soaps? As ever; we won’t give up hope.

Moose, Nigel and I join together in wishing you a Happy New Year! 

General Hospital: Surprise! A Soap Full of Great Surprises!

Sean Kanan’s A.J. Quartrmaine: The jury said “Not guilty.”

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

One of the great strengths of the soap opera form is the element of surprise.  Since we have long lived in a world of spoilers, surprises are few and far between today’s soaps.  Thus we rejoice that General Hospital of late has managed to steer around the obligatory spoilers and give us genuine surprises. Doubtless this has contributed to the great ratings high the show’s been riding these days.  Soap producers, watch and learn.

For example, it was most unexpected that A.J. Quartermaine (Sean Kanan) be declared not guilty of the murder of Connie Falconeri last week by a jury.  After all he was caught almost red-handed: his fingerprints were on the gun, Connie had scribbled “A.J” near her body in her own blood, and cameras had placed him at the entrance to the office where the murder took place.  But … surprise! … the jury didn’t think there was enough evidence to convict him.  As a practical matter, A.J. was probably declared not guilty so that Kanan — one of the great strengths of the show — didn’t have to be written off.  The trial took a long time to come to fruition, and during the few months an incarcerated  A.J. and Kanan were regrettably not even shown on screen. GH needs him back.

Another great surprise registered in the shock arena.  Last week Franco (Roger Howarth)  was shown stabbing his own newly discovered mother Heather (Robin Mattson) to “death’ with a shank. Heather had shown up at Carly’s hotel with the shank supposedly to do her son’s lover in.  Franco was shown burying his own mother in a freshly dug grave.  But not so fast! Does anyone ever really die on a soap opera? Soon we saw a hand reaching out from the grave!  Also surprisingly Franco confessed to the murder to therapist Kevin the next day; but Kevin brushed it off as self-defense.  How long will it be until Heather is shown alive again?  How long will it be until Franco discovers he’s not guilty of murdering his own mother?

The surprises kept coming. Another great one was the upcoming write-out of Spinelli and Ellie (Bradford Anderson and Emily Wilson). As you know, Spinelli was given custody of his and Maxie’s baby Connie.  Well, just last week Ellie was offered a lab job in Portland. Maxie didn’t object to the couple taking the baby that far away because she declared she couldn’t stand being so close to her baby in Port Charles and not being able to see her.   So this week Ellie and Spinelli and Connie will leave Port Charles.

It’s a shock and a shame to see Bradford Anderson go.   He has added so much to the show over the last seven years in which he has played the lovable nerd Spinelli.  From his own special language to his immense tenderness, sweetness and great doses of humanity, Anderson’s Spinelli is a one of a kind soap character.  I, for one, will miss greatly miss the pleasure of his company.

But is Spinelli really going for good?  This is, after all, soap opera …

General Hospital Reaches a Storyline and Ratings High

 

” …let them speak now or forever hold their peace …”

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

Last week General Hospital reached a very admirable ratings high, scoring 3.3 million viewers, its highest numbers since 2007. The timing for this benchmark is something the show had long been leading up to: the revelation to Dr.  Patrick Drake that his wife Dr.  Robin is still alive.  Of course, this being soap opera, that revelation came right in the middle of Patrick’s wedding ceremony to Nurse Sabrina.

A key to this ratings spike was the fact that Patrick and Robin (“Scrubs”) have long been fan favorites.  After all, Robin has been on the show since she was six years old.  But the real secret behind the ratings high was that GH did everything it could to prolong the reveal of Robin’s survival.

They gave Robin more than two whole months in town before her existence was exposed to her widower.  During that time Robin had to formulate a miracle cure for Jerry Jacks, the same cure she had found for Luke’s plutonium poisoning.  Along the way there were many near run-ins between Patrick and Robin.  At Halloween, Robin wore a costume to disguise herself at the hospital.  In fact, Sabrina’s ex,   Carlos, actually ran into Robin in the lab.  He recognized her from a picture in Patrick’s house.  When Carlos tried to warn Patrick Robin was still alive, Patrick didn’t believe him.  Ava also tried to convince Patrick of the fact that Robin was alive, but he didn’t believe her either.

GH upped the ante by slowing down time as Patrick and Sabrina’s wedding approached.  Sabrina took forever to choose her wedding gown and finally got her mother’s gown from her visiting cousin Juan.   The day of the wedding, Robin came to the church and watched the ceremony from the doorway. The show let almost the entire ceremony (and an entire episode)  go by until Emma saw Robin standing, fully alive, in the back of the church.  

Dragging out the revelation to Patrick and Sabrina that Robin was still alive created a lot of anticipation for the audience.  It also deepened the pain of the situation.  After all, there were no villains here Robin was taken from her family innocently, and Sabrina fell in love with the man she knew as a widower.  Losing Patrick would be a true tragedy for Sabrina, even though the reunion was a pure thrill for Scrubs fans.

The dragged out drama was rewarding in that it afforded opportunities for some great acting. The moment that Patrick saw Robin, actor Jason Thompson  captured perfectly the pain his character was feeling, down to his very soul. Likewise, actress Kimberly McCullough projected both the joy in Robin’s reunion with her husband and the character’s ambivalence about breaking up Patrick and Sabrina.  And actress Teresa Castillo did a masterful job of showing Sabrina’s great pain at seeing all her dreams come unraveled.

 All in all, this was one of GH’s finest hours. It was soap opera at its best and well worth waiting for.

Happy 24th Anniversary, Marlena!

By  Connie Passalacqua Hayman

This week marks the 24th anniversary of the debut of my alter ego, Marlena De Lacroix. My first column with that byline under the standing headline Critical Condition debuted in the second issue of Soap Opera Weekly the last week of November 1989.  Weekly was an immediate success and Marlena became very popular very quickly.

A lot of people have asked me why I used the named Marlena De Lacroix.  Marlena is a play on my middle name and Lacroix phonetically comes from the last part of my last name.  At the time I was freelancing for an ABC magazine called Episodes and the editor there thought there would be less of a conflict of interest if I used a nom de plume at Weekly. Marlena’s real identity was never a secret –everyone knew it was me.

Although I have used the name continuously, the column has appeared at different times.  It appeared from 1989-2001  in Soap Opera Weekly, and debuted on the web in 2006 at Jack Myers Media Village. Here at marlenadelacroix.com, it has been running since 2007.

Marlena’s mission from the get-go was and is to report on and criticize soaps with intelligence and respect.  The readers – you, my cherished Thinking Fans – always have been veteran soap viewers with a vast knowledge both of soap history and how soaps are put together.  You  know the role of the writers, the producers and the actors.  You know what has worked well in the past and are expert at analyzing why soaps are working or if they are not.

Which brings me to my favorite part of being Marlena:  I love doing critical analysis; but what really pleases me is receiving your reaction to my opinions.  I love reading your analyses of all of the soaps.  Keep on sending your thoughts on what I write and your reactions to what you see on your daytime soaps  every day.

Thanks for your loyalty and support. Here’s to another 24 years!

General Hospital: Jam-Packed November Sweeps

William deVry: His Derek Wells is really dead mob boss Julian Jerome (ABC photo)

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

It’s traditional for a soap presents its strongest stories during sweeps, and this November hasn’t been a disappointment on General Hospital. Au contraire, the month isn’t over yet. To paraphrase Bette Davis in All About Eve: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy 30 days.”

The opening of the Jerome art gallery, with its hilarious “BLT” painting  supposedly by Franco, was the site of the denouement of two longtime plots. It was a messy confluence, but got a lot done story-wise. In one, Sonny revealed that Derek Wells (William deVry) is really dead mob  boss Julian Jerome, the brother of Ava and the co-owner of the art gallery.   In the other, Sonny wanted to kill Julian for ripping off a shipment but during the sequence decided that he couldn’t because Julian is needed for future leukemia transplant  treatments for Danny.  The reveal was a bit underwhelming as deVry played it way too cool, and there were really no consequences for the Julian character.  At least, Sam found out who her biological  father was.

There’s more: The gallery was also the backdrop for the revelation that Franco isn’t Jason’s twin brother after all but the natural child of Heather Webber and Scotty Baldwin.  This new “fact” didn’t exactly make sense because Franco would have been conceived when both mother and father were on the soap canvas in the early 80s, but we never saw them get together.  Also the ages didn’t match.  Roger Howarth, who plays Franco is 45, Robin Mattson is 57 and Kin Shriner is 60. Even so, this parentage would explain Franco’s strange and colorful personality.

And more: The courtroom was the backdrop for the resolution of the Baby Connie custody hearing.  Lulu and Dante wanted to keep their daughter, who really biologically belongs to Maxie and Spinelli.  In a unique twist, custody of the child was awarded to Spinelli, with Maxie banned from seeing the infant for six months. The scene in which Lulu and Dante had to hand Connie over to Spinelli was just heartbreaking.

We’re not finished yet: The big news was that Robin was alive after all, having spent the last two months on screen lurking about behind the scenes — first, inventing a cure for Luke on Cassadine Island and second,  wandering around Port Charles having near run-ins with her “surviving” husband Patrick and his fiancé Sabrina. At one point, Sabrina’s ex Carlos even discovered Robin as alive.

And finally: On Friday, Robin had a face to face reunion with her father Robert, in a back room in the church where Patrick is about to marry Sabrina. The reveal to Patrick that Robin is still alive should take place this week, probably during the wedding ceremony.  It should be explosive, just another exciting story event.

A bumpy 30 days indeed! 

The Bold and the Beautiful Scores a Ratings High

 

Crossing and double crossing (from left : Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang), Bill (Don Diamont) and Katie (Heather Tom)

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

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly, judging the parade of men through her life, distinguishes between regular rats and super rats. She could have been talking about The Bold and the Beautiful’s odious Bill Spencer. In the past two weeks, he’s clearly earned a promotion from regular to super rat status.

Headwriter Bradley Bell and his team achieved this through a dizzingly swift sequence of crosses and double crosses that seem more akin to a twisty spy novel than a soap opera. Such is the demand for speed in modern television storytelling.

The payoff has been a much deserved ratings spike for the show, its best numbers in years.

Since Bill came down from the mountain chastened by his scary fall and buoyed by his new resolve to change his ways toward Katie, the loving wife he had wronged by having a hot affair with her sister Brooke, everything changed and changed again and then changed some more on B&B.

As the week ended, we were hoping that a betrayed Katie did not take him back. But she did, and without hesitation. Almost immediately, the two slept together. Of course we knew that Bill had seen a practical side to his spiritual cleansing. Promptly post coitus, Bill talked Katie into signing back to him the CEO seat of Spencer Publications and custody of their baby son Will. Again without missing a beat, she complied.

We’d barely gotten past our gasp at this slick maneuver when Bill pulled a double cross!  With the ink not yet dry on the agreement, he hastened to the side of the heart-broken Brooke and turned on the full force of his lounge lizard charm. He doesn’t want Katie back at all, he claimed, and only went back to her as a ruse to get all the goodies. It’s you, Brooke, that I want, he insisted.

We hadn’t finished gagging when Brooke showed uncommon backbone, went immediately to Katie to reveal Bill’s chicanery, and then fiercely told Bill to his face:“No one treats the Logan sisters this way!” 

Sisters together, one for all and all for one, right? Well, not exactly. While Katie wept over being blindsided by Bill, Brooke pulled a double cross of her own. She secretly destroyed the signed legal transfer papers  and replaced them in an empty legal envelope with leaves she had collected in Aspen, the site of Bill’s supposed epiphany and the scene of their last romantic rendezvous.

So, now what? Will Bill dump Katie again when he knows he no longer has control of the company? Is this Brooke’s plan to get him back? Can there ever be romance again between Bill and either Katie or Brooke? Or is Bill truly the most irresistible super rat of all time? 

We’ll leave that for Bell and company to figure out.  They know what they’re doing. According to a show press release, the Bill/Brooke/Katie adventure has carried the show to its highest ratings since 2007.   That’s about equivalent to 3.5 million viewers as this new soap season started, which is a lot of viewers in a soap opera  medium that is still struggling to stay alive.

The only question now is how Bell will keep us watching the Bill/Brooke/Katie triangle.  Okay, we’ll admit that, twisty spy novel or soap opera, we’re really intrigued … and will keep on watching!  

The Bold and the Beautiful: Bill’s Balderdash

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

It may be the strangest game changer in soap history.  While The Bold and the Beautiful’s Bill Spencer was climbing to a mountain top in Aspen, he slipped and fell. Not that far, thanks to his safety line. But far enough, he said, to frighten him into an epiphany.

Don Diamont: His Bill has a high altitude epiphany

According to Bill, he saw his whole life flash before his eyes.  He realized that leaving his wife Katie for her sister Brooke was wrong, wrong, wrong. This week, to make things right, he broke up with his supposed great love, Brooke, and attempted to return to a stunned Katie.

Did Bill’s mountaintop revelation prove that he may he may indeed have a conscience?  Balderdash!  We don’t believe Bill ever had a conscience in the first place, or else he never would have left his beloved wife for her sister.  The truth is that Bill misses the power he had when he was the head of Spencer Publishing, a position he lost to Katie. At the same time, Bill misses his baby son, Will, who has remained with Katie.

Predictably, Brooke took the break-up badly. “All the men who tell me they love me leave me,” cried Brooke, who has an engagement ring stashed away in a drawer to “prove”  Bill’s love.  Indeed, many men in B&B history have loved and left Brooke.  What she might not recognize is that she doesn’t know the difference between love and sexual attraction.

In Bill she met her equal; he doesn’t understand the difference, either. Strangely. Bill and Brooke, a most scandalous couple, became incredibly popular on B&B.   The actors, Katherine Kelly Lang and Don Diamant have dynamite chemistry. With all the fervor of a sweeping romance novel, Bill chased  Brooke  to Rome to claim her and brought her home in triumph, whereupon the two started living together.

That didn’t last long, did it?  In the interim, Katie grew stronger, running the company and taking care of Will.  She did not have a nervous breakdown.  Even so, Bill and Brooke treated her like a mental case, blaming her problems, including postpartum depression, for her “pushing” her husband and sister-in-law together.   The audience didn’t know who to root for Bill to be with — Brooke or Katie.   This continued for some months.

Knowing the difference between right and wrong , we always rooted for wife Katie.  Now, we await whether or not she will take Bill back.  We certainly hope not.   And as to that moutaintop revelation — maybe it was inevitable after all.   Without fickle Bill changing his mind, B&B  would have no on-going  story to tell.

Who do you think Bill will be with from now on?  Does he deserve his legal wife Katie, and all that goes with her? Is the newly spurned “fiancé” Brooke better off without him? Will Bill’s balderdash finally be exposed?    

The Young and the Restless’ Record-Breaking Stunt

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

Yet again … is it right or wrong for a soap to kill off a child?  I led a column with this perennial question several weeks ago when Delia Abbott was killed on The Young and the Restless, reiterating my longstanding opposition to what I regard as a creepy plot device that exploits the worst nightmare of mothers everywhere, many of whom historically form the backbone of soap viewership.

Billy Miller: His Billy carries a crushing burden of guilt

But that’s just me, and as it turns out lots of viewers disagree. There was a tremendous response to the column:  a spike of several thousand hits above the norm here at Marlena De Lacroix:  Soaps for the Thinking Fan, plus almost a hundred letters, breaking at about half pro and half con.  Y&R earned the biggest prize of all: close to a record five million viewers for this most controversial storyline of the year.

It’s hard to argue with such success, so I’ll concede this much: if Y&R had to do this story, at least they did a fine job of it. The writing, acting and production all were first rate. The death of Delia touched almost every character on the canvas. As the grieving mother Chloe, Elizabeth Hendrickson brought tears to the eyes. The grief of the father, Billy (Billy Miller) was made worse by his knowledge that, just prior to the accident,  he had left the child in the car when he went into a store to get some ice cream.  Any parent could relate to his crushing feelings of guilt, expressed so movingly in his later scenes with his hysterical mother Jill (Jess Walton).

The death of Delia brought the leading Abbott family together. Jack and his sisters Ashley (Eileen Davidson) and Tracy (Beth Maitland) came to town. Ashley brought muffins for a scene Y&R watchers have grown to love as tradition:  the Abbott family breakfast.  Jack (Peter Berman) was shown to be the new head of the family, a fact that was remarked upon by Jack’s dead father John (Jerry Douglas), who appeared only to Jack.  The warmth of the family gathering went a long way to assuage the pain of Delia’s death, although the pain will never go away.

And there’s more. Also shown in a great deal of pain was Adam Newman (Michael Muhney), the man who apparently (and up until now secretly) ran over Delia.  He kept this knowledge to himself, even after parts of Delia’s eyes were successfully transplanted to Adam’s newborn, almost blind son, per Chloe and Billy’s permission. Adam hasn’t even been able to enjoy the success of this operation.  All along he has been debating confessing his guilt. This week he may even do so.

Will Adam Newman ever be happy?   Here’s a question that has haunted the character ever since he came to town as the son of Victor and the blind and deceased Hope several years ago.   First he loved and lost Sharon (Sharon Case). Then he loved and lost his wife Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan).   Now he may go to jail for a decade and miss his son’s growing up years. Adam Newman’s life is perpetually a tragedy. Not as great as the death of Delia, but certainly a story that is ongoing for the recent run of Y&R.  The soulful Michael Muhney has his work cut out for him. Happily for the viewers, he seems to be up to the challenge.    

Four More Who Make My Day

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

Even when the plots of our soap operas drag or are otherwise unsatisfying, there are always actors who make our day.  I named some of my favorites here a while back. Now, here are some more, all on General Hospital:

Anders Hove: GH’s own bad grandpa (ABC Photo)

Anders Hove plays Faison, a classic villain who has been in and out of Port Charles going back to 1990.   He’s Danish and with his long hair and wrinkles is perhaps the most bedraggled looking character on all of daytime TV.  His visits usually have to do with his obsession with lady love Anna Devane and with his favorite diabolical undertaking, kidnapping.  This time he’s in town after revealing to Anna that her daughter Robin (who his bossy wife Dr. Obrecht abducted a year and a half ago) is still alive.

Hove’s latest visit is so much fun because we’re getting to see the domestic side of the Great Dane.  He’s continually in conflict with Dr. O, his quarrelsome spouse from hell (the outstanding Kathleen Gatti). The two fight like the old married couple that they are. This time he’s also fighting with evil daughter Britt (does the apple fall far from the tree?), who has introduced him to his “grandson” Ben, who is not biologically Britt’s son.  It’s hilarious to see this villain kiss his “baby.”  We hope Faison sticks around, even if at the moment he should still be in jail for impersonating Duke Lavery.

Finola Hughes

Finola Hughes is always a treat since her spy/police chief character Anna Devane  came to town in the 80s.  She is what soap women rarely are: career oriented and mature but still vulnerable and brimming with emotion.   Now she’s obsessed with finding her daughter Robin, who has thought dead for some time but is still alive.

The most interesting recent Hughes moment came with her impersonation of the vile Dr. O, who wore a mask impersonating Anna. She was an actress pretending to be a character pretending to be her character. Tricky stuff, and Hughes made it a jolly tour de force, complete Dr. O’s signature hauteur. Elsewhere, she played herself with equal charm in some marvelous scenes with Hove.

Bryan Craig. We’ve been very rough on Craig who plays Carly and Sonny’s son Morgan.  As Kiki’s husband, he was very weak.  However, since Morgan has hooked up with older woman Ava Jerome (the outstanding Maura West), Craig’s performances have gotten better. Perhaps working with the accomplished West buoyed him. Now he’s a lot more forceful.   Going forward, it should be interesting now that he’s discovered Ava’s brother Derek is really his father’s enemy, mob boss Julian Jerome.

Ilene Kristen. Here’s a big soap surprise. It seems that GH is incorporating the old soap Ryan’s Hope and Kristen’s character Delia Reid Ryan into its own storylines. Sam and Silas will go to the Upper West Side bar to find out if Delia is really the mother of Ava Jerome.  We can hardly wait to see Kristen (formerly Roxy on One Life to Live), who is always kooky and funny,  in her two appearances scheduled for  this week.

The Bold and the Beautiful’s Most Excellent Recast

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

Cheers to The Bold and the Beautiful for the most exciting soap recast of this or any other year: Soap superstar Thorsten Kaye has been signed to played Ridge Forrester, the show’s lead character, who was played from the show’s 1987 debut until last year by Ronn Moss.  Kaye, of course, played Patrick Thornhart on One Life to Live and Zack Slater on All My Children, and was last seen in primetime as Anjelica Huston’s shady but adorable boyfriend Nick on Smash

Thorsten Kaye: How will he change Ridge?

This bold recasting coup is so fascinating because Kaye and Moss are so different as actors. Both have the leading man’s requisite virility and good looks. But whereas Moss, with his legendary chiseled cheekbones, could have stepped off the cover of a romance novel, Kaye’s unshaven ruggedness is less generically handsome but much more down to earth.

Moss played Ridge, son of the Forrester dynasty of clothing designers, as a spoiled, mildly pompous rich kid.  He was always under the thumb of his domineering mother Stephanie, played by Susan Flannery, who has retired from the show.

Kaye, a classically trained theater actor, has a lot more range than the somewhat flat Moss. Kaye can play romantic, he can play tender, he can play tough and he has fabulous diction (as demonstrated by his Patrick’s many renditions of the poem “Brown Penny” on OLTL.)   He really is the quintessential soap leading man.

How will Kaye change Ridge? We hope the character will become more assertive, more nuanced and as a result more interesting.  The Ridge who has been residing in Paris for the last year will come back to find a changed scene in his hometown of Los Angeles. Ridge’s ex-wife Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) has become secretly engaged to Bill Spencer (Don Diamont), a married man and a significant force in his own right. We can hardly witness the inevitable clash between macho Diamont, all bedecked in his trademark bling, and the fiery Kaye.

Speaking of male roles on B&B

I have reached my limit and am fed up with that ultimate wuss Liam Spencer, as played by Scott Clifton.   Although he spends his life huffing and puffing and sanctimoniously trying to hang on to his now ex-fiancée Hope Logan (Kim Matula), at heart he really can’t commit to her.  Why else would he send a love montage email to his ex-wife Steffy?   He’s already left Hope at the altar and has kept her hanging on for years.  Now, Liam’s half-brother Wyatt (Darin Brooks) has fallen in love with Hope and has done everything to sweep her off her feet.  We can’t help rooting for Wyatt as Liam has become unbearable.  Wyatt at least has a clear allegiance to Hope, the only woman in his life.  No matter how much the now unattractive Liam  whines and carries on, he has no natural right to Hope’s love and affection