Ridge Forrester: Master of B&B’s Universe

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

Thorsten Kaye, the new Ridge

Every soap opera needs a leading man.   But perhaps because Ridge Forrester seems to have been at the center of most plots since The Bold and the Beautiful debuted more than 25 years ago, he seems more like a Master of the Universe than just a plain leading man.

Born handsome and rich, the son of Eric and Stephanie Forrester (Massimo Marone, an old lover of Stephanie’s, is Ridge’s biological father)  Ridge has always had everything he wanted.  His father Eric is head of Forrester Creations, a leading couture house, and he himself is the fashion house’s leading designer.

Ridge’s problem has always been women.  Is it just because he is so attractive?  It seems that he’s always involved with two women at a time, whether it’s Valley Girl Brooke and the late Caroline Spencer (his late first wife) or Brooke and Taylor, another wife of his. Taylor, a beautiful psychiatrist, seemed to at least understand Ridge.  His attraction to Brooke, to whom he has been married three times, seems more physical, and the two certainly have had quite the tumultuous romance over the years.

Ridge was played by Ronn Moss from the role’s inception to 2012, when Moss suddenly left.  Ridge and Brooke broke up over the thinnest of pretexts (Ridge found a text message from Brooke’s former lover Deacon) and Ridge went to live in Paris. During that year, Stephanie suffered from cancer, and later died of the disease.  Ridge, a huge momma’s boy, didn’t even return for his mother’s funeral.

When Ridge did return at the end of last year, he was played by Englishman Thorsten Kaye, a fan favorite from his days on One Life to Live and All My Children. Kaye is of course a very different kind of actor from Moss, who seemed to own the role. Kaye’s Ridge is more introspective, but with his own Continental style delivers a Ridge who is just as much the self-absorbed, immature jerk he’s always been. And as always, Kaye is a treat to watch.  

Thus when the new Ridge returned, he seemed to be the perfect man, suddenly very soft and tender, especially sympathetic toward Brooke’s sister Katie.  Katie’s husband Bill had fallen in love with and run off with Brooke.  Bill and Ridge hate one another. Ridge seemed to be Katie’s knight in shining armor and the two made off together, even after Ridge initially almost married Brooke.  Right now, the two are having an idyllic romance and indeed Kaye and Heather Tom, who plays Katie, are probably the best acted couple in soapdom.

So it was a brilliant stroke when B&B shattered the image of the new perfect Ridge and had him make some moves at Forrester Creations that showed how arrogant and spoiled he could be.  He tried to have photographer Oliver fired and brother Rick ousted from his position as president of the company.  Both moves failed.

Eric offered him the presidency of the company should he and Katie break up.  But arrogant and wanting his way as always, Ridge refused.  Will Ridge Forrester be able to keep his new love Katie, and continue to have it all as B&B’s Master of the Universe?     

Y&R Tries Some Suspense for Sweeps

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

Tristan Rogers still has the old charm as Colin.

We’ve written several times that the biggest challenge to changing The Young and the Restless is it’s static  writing template, which has been in effect back to the days of co- creator/headwriter Bill Bell.  The show is all about slow storytelling, dragging the storylines out and instead exploring character.

Recently, the show underwent a headwriting change, with Jeanne Passanante and Shelley Altman (most recently of One Life to Live) taking over.  Whether it was by design or perhaps a sweeps month stunt, Passanante and Altman successfully picked up the show’s quality this month by careful use of the element of suspense.

The backdrop was the Delia Project Benefit, which honored the late little girl who was run over by Adam.  Strangely, Adam’s widow Chelsea attended, to prove she was not her criminal husband.  But even more strangely, the attendees at the benefit (which included everyone in town except Niki) were held hostage as a doll to be auctioned off accidentally broke open, spilling a cache of diamonds all over the ballroom floor.   An ex-con character called Womack held everyone at gunpoint.

The writers used suspense in many different ways to keep the scene exciting. A dazed Billy broke down and admitted, in front of his wife Victoria and the whole town, that he had slept with Kelly.  Would Victoria reject Billy on the spot?  Most humanely, Victoria ignored the admission, chose to stay with her ill husband and accompany him to the hospital.

Womack didn’t give up when the police arrived.  He decided to keep Cain and Lilly, the most boring couple on soap operas, as his sole hostages.  Would Womack kill Lily?  It suddenly made the couple infinitely more interesting. Finally, Womack shot Cain, just grazing him.  Cain’s father Colin stepped out of the shadows with a gun to capture Womack, with whom, it turned out, he was in cahoots all along to steal the doll.

The suspense involved in this sweeps stunt did a lot to keep this week’s worth of Y&R episodes exciting. The use of suspense might be a good tool in upgrading the show’s writing in the future.  It also did a lot to showcase the show’s two newest actors, both returnees.  Tristan Rogers showed he still has the old charm as Colin.  And David Tom has blended in very naturally and very nicely in his old role of Billy.  

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! 

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

Appreciating Three Wise Decisions – In Soap Land, No Less

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

Soap critics never miss a chance to bash all they dislike.  But credit should always be given where credit is due. So this week, Marlena would like to give kudos to three significant decisions:

1.  OWN, the Oprah network, picked up the first 40 episodes of All My Children and One Life to Live from Prospect Park. These are the pioneering episodes produced for online viewing in a bold experiment to aimed at giving the iconic soaps a rebirth. Now they’ll be broadcast again on Oprah’s cable network starting July 15th.  Hooray!  Now, we the technologically unadvanced have a chance to watch these shows on regular TV! As explained by Roger Friedman in Show Biz 411, here , Oprah, an astute businesswoman decided to pick up the two shows after the megasuccess of Tyler Perry’s original soap The Haves and Have Nots, which more than doubled her network’s viewership.  Kudos to OWN for realizing the power of soaps, in an era when so many still proclaim them to be dying.

2.  CBS, number one in viewership and Emmy wins, is demonstrating that it still knows the power of Friday cliffhangers.  So many soaps stopped doing them years ago in favor of spreading out story high points during the week.   But this week The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful had socko Friday endings which guarantee the return of viewers on Monday:

On Y&R, Phyllis and Kyle  kissed, as Phyllis tried to break up the romance of Summer and the biological brother she doesn’t know she has. This kiss (and maybe more) has huge ramifications, potentially breaking up Phyllis and father Jack and Summer and Kyle’s budding romance, too.  Is this Michelle Stafford’s exit storyline? 

Hunter Tylo

Meanwhile, over on B&B:  Also leaving her show is Hunter Tylo whose Taylor lowered the bomb on Brooke Friday encouraging her to tell her secret to all the guests at her birthday party. Brooke secretly slept with her brother-in-law Bill, becoming pregnant. Katie never knew — until now. Wow!  The ramifications here are huge inasmuch as this is the soap’s central story.

I’m coming back to watch both Y&R and B&B on Monday.  Are you?

3.  General Hospital paired brilliant actors Roger Howarth and Maura West as “romantic” partners Franco and Ava.  So what if this pairing is a put-on, one to wrest the ownership of ELQ and the Quartermaine fortune from the Quartermaines? The pairing of the two most talented and charismatic actors in the soap business is absolutely divine soap watching for us GH fans.  Hope these a deux scenes go on depuis longtemps.

General Hospital Has Identity and Condiment Problems

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

The core of watching soap operas is to believe.  Unfortunately, General Hospital viewers had to put that value behind them this week when the show introduced new characters played by oh-so-familiar faces, all with new hair-dos to signify their new personae.  Michael Easton, who played John, is now playing Steven Clay’s brother Silas, who wears a pony tail.  With her hair naturally brunette, Kristin Alderson, who played Starr, is now playing Kiki. Superstar Roger Howarth, formerly known as the infamous Todd, now looks like a chic European supermodel in his dyed blond do, thus equipping him to play an oily character whose nefarious intentions are yet to be shared with the audience.

The GH producers had little choice but to recast the actors, when Prospect Park (the producers of the on-line All My Children and One Life to Live) prohibited them from using the actors as their former OLTL characters. I’m sure it was a hard choice.  They’re betting the loyalty of their audience on it. Will they lose viewers? Probably. Because belief is so fundamental to enjoying soap operas, I think GH will be on the losing end here.

The tricky situation won’t be as bad if the actors can manage to create new characters to go along with their new looks. This is a tall order – all three are strongly identified with their former screen selves. But they’re going to give it a go:  Easton – stuck as he is with his long face, dark gaze and trademark deep voice – is nonetheless trying to be someone new as Silas, the doctor brother of the dead serial killer Clay.  Howarth has used his new look to create someone who is very threatening and, at the same time, very intriguing. His name has yet to be revealed to the audience. Only Kristin Alderson appears not to be working very hard to make her Kiki substantially different from her Starr. Making the situation more confusing is the fact that Kiki is the poker playing girlfriend of Morgan. She used to be the girlfriend of his brother Michael, who at this point, must be very, very confused.

On The Chew: Mario Batali, Jane Ellliot and Michael Symon

However, GH did have a choice in doing a long sequence which promoted its ABC time slot on The Chew.  A. J. Quartermaine (the superbly charming Sean Kanan) pitted his Pickle-Lila formula vs. his aunt’s Tracy’s Pickle-Eddie in a condiment taste-off on air.  What followed was embarrassing mugging by The Chew cast (especially by chef Mario Batali) and even more hopeless overacting by the usually marvelous Jane Elliot, who plays Tracy. As you know the samples were poisoned (most probably by Roger Howarth’s new character) and Liz and Batali wound up in the hospital.

The whole sequence was too broad and over the top and reeked of the desperation of its own network-sponsored cross-promotion.   The story might have worked if so many episodes hadn’t been devoted to it.  In the end, we still don’t know which Pickle-Lila formula is actually better, and the ownership of ELQ is still in question.   Does Tracy own it or does A.J?  We can be reasonably sure we won’t find out any time soon. How much longer can we be expected to relish this interminable relish business?

All My Children and One Life to Live: A Triumphant Return!

 

Welcome back, One Life to Live

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

I’d like to congratulate Prospect Park and all the writers, crew, actors and producers involved for sensational online premieres of All My Children and One Life to Live.  Both came across as first class, with the sets, costumes and especially the actors looking just wonderful.  Here are soap episodes built not only to last, but to be an enduring success!

It was so thrilling to see Viki, Clint, Dorian, Brooke, Adam and Opal again. It’s incredible how many memories and emotions the actors who play these roles bring with them.  And although I had a bit of trouble distinguishing some of the teenagers on AMC from one another, it was great to see the young people of soaps again. OLTL, with its hot new club Shelter, in particular makes the most of the sex appeal of its younger generation by featuring them in dancing sequences.  It’s great to see such favorites as Cutter,  Blair, Destiny and Matthew again.   Melissa Archer’s Natalie is seen several times in her underwear. But this is cable, where sex sells.   There’s also a soupcon of profanity. But they want to make soaps au courant and I guess this is another obvious way to do it.

But what’s really encouraging about the new episodes of OLTL and AMC is that both of these premieres present soap opera in its classic form.  From the moment Petey drives into Llanview in his hot sports car to the conclusion of OLTL when Victor is shockingly seen alive in a hoody, we get soap straight up with all the conventions we love so much.  It was great to see Adam proposing to Brooke and Clint holding Viki’s hand — which had his ring on it.  It was even fun to watch “cougar” Blair try and pick up a young guy.-

I greatly appreciated the reunion between Blair and Todd.  All they had to do was look at one another.  But what I liked best were my two favorite older couples, Dorian and David and Bo and Nora.  Decades of romantic love stories involving these two come back to me by just looking at them.  And they’re all still together! What will happen?  We’ll just have to “tune” into our computers to find out!

Cliffhangers, young lovers, old friends and new storylines — you can’t ask for anything more. Cheers again to Prospect Park — and I’ll be watching!

So now it’s your turn, Cher Thinking Fans. What do you think of the new All My Children and One Life to Live?

And welcome, too, All My Children

 

Will a new era begin on Monday?

Monday’s the big day for the premieres of All My Children and One Life to Live on hulu.com.  As a fan of both for over 40 years, I can’t tell you how excited I am.  I’ll watch the new shows and report back that same night how I feel about them. I know all of you, my dear Thinking Fans, will be bursting with opinions, too.  And I can’t wait to hear them.  So let’s all meet back here Monday evening and start the conversation! – Love,  Marlena

General Hospital at 50: They’ve Only Just Begun …

Marlena says:  It’s a special time at General Hospital.  The 50th anniversary is coming up April 1 and it’s been just about a year since headwriter Ron Carlivati and executive producer executive producer Frank Valentini took over a dying show and made it must-watch TV.  Marlena’s dear friend and veteran journalist Ed Martin, who first started watching GH in the glory days of the early 80s, expresses the feelings of many avid fans at the current state of the show in this column, reprinted from his regular gig at TV Worth Watching. Ed’s been a guest columnist here many times, and I’m so happy to share his latest GH thoughts with you.

By Ed Martin

April will mark the 50th anniversary of ABC’s General Hospital. I’ll be marking my 35th anniversary as a steady GH viewer just a couple of months after that. One year ago, I was almost certain that neither anniversary would come to pass, what with the show in a death spiral after more than ten years of dreadful mob-based stories that had gutted virtually everything [Read more...]

General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless: 15 Questions

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

1.    Wasn’t Caleb tasting the dead correction officer’s blood at the end of General Hospital’s Friday episode one of the grossest soap moments ever?  So that’s Caleb?  What’s the big deal, anyway?

Return of the vampire
Michael Easton as Caleb Morley

2.    Am I the only one who thinks that Steve Burton has done fine so far on The Young and the Restless? I like the Nick/Avery/Mac triangle as long as they don’t overdo it.

3.   Have you noticed that the uniform for Nick’s new nightclub Underground is a black T-shirt? Bartender Mac has to wear one. Is that a wink at Jason’s black T-shirt that Burton perpetually wore on GH?

4.    So Nikki is really going to have an incurable disease on Y&R?  Like they’d ever kill off Melody Thomas Scott!

5.    Am I the only one who thinks Steffy’s face [Read more...]