General Hospital: This Storyline Should End

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

When has a storyline go on too long?  This is a question normally leftonly to headwriters who must figure out if an audience is still interested in the outcome of a story. Right now on General Hospital, one storyline that has gone on too long is the secret biological parentage of Maxie’s baby girl, which she supposed bore as a surrogate baby for Dante and Lulu.  The baby has been born, yet Maxie still has not confessed the truth. (Although, at least, Spinelli  does finally know he is the baby’s biological father.)

Maxie (Kristen Storms) is still keeping her secret

This secrecy makes Maxie seem cruel and heartless. Dante and Lulu are being hurt. They now have full possession of “their” little girl (as yet unnamed).  How much longer can this go on?  Viewers don’t know who to root for.  And the situation doesn’t seem to have any resolution that will seem satisfactory. The story and the situation are just too painful for the audience and every character involved.  It’s been almost a year since this storyline kicked off. Get the truth of the baby’s parentage out already! 

Wyatt Who?

One of the notable additions to a soap opera this year has been Emmy winner Darin Brooks, who has joined The Bold and the Beautiful as Wyatt Spencer.  Brooks, who starred as Max Brady on Days of Our Lives, is a very good actor and very charismatic.  Yet, the character of Wyatt has remained very undefined.  Is he a good guy or a bad guy?  On the one hand, he has defended Katie and urged his father Bill not to desert her or their baby as Bill deserted his mother Quinn when Wyatt was a baby.  On the other hand, he has taken every opportunity to try and seduce his half-brother Liam’s fiancé Hope.    Although the character seems likable right now, it’s really hard for the audience to get a fix on who he is exactly. We hope it’s a problem the writers of B&B have the real Wyatt stand up soon..

A Less Than Grand Finale

Seldom has a soap character had a better send off than the late Katherine Chancellor. (Jeanne Cooper, who played her, died this spring).  The two day memorial service on The Young and the Restless last week had it all — a beautiful outdoor setting, and guest characters from the past cast like Danny, Nina and Amber.   Yet the capstone of the service —  the sudden wedding of Paul Williams and Christine — was in very bad taste and detracted from the solemn grandeur of the observance. Happily, both occasions were presided over by Father Todd Williams, nicely played by Cooper’s real life son Corbin Bernsen. Until now, we didn’t even know Paul had a brother.

A Proper Farewell for Connie?

Speaking of send-offs … Last week we stated that the unfortunately murdered Connie Falconeri had not even been given a funeral on GH.  This week, spoilers say she will get one, though a few very pertinent mourners will not be attending.  Stay tuned!

They Make My Day

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

Who are your current favorite soap characters – the ones who make your day as soon as you see they will be in an episode of your favorite daytime drama? Here are my current faves:

Jessica Collins

* Avery Clark (played by Jessica Collins), The Young and the Restless. She’s the only soap character I can think of that I ever wanted as a personal friend.  She’s mature, intelligent and compassionate.  In other words, a great soap heroine.  Everything’s gone fine with her for a while, but will her heart be broken before her scheduled walk down the aisle with Nick Newman?

* Dr. Liesl Obrecht (played by Kathleen Gati), General Hospital. There are many different kinds of villains on daytime: nasty, snide, self-deluded, pathologically dishonest and even downright vicious.  But very few  are sheer fun. The Machiavellian Dr. Obrecht is one. Unburdened by any moral compass, she happily employs any means to her end. Plus she’s in on several of GH ’s big plot secrets such as who is the father of her daughter Britt’s child. This is a great performance by the spirited Gati.

* Maya Avant (played by Karla Mosley), The Bold and the Beautiful. Whether she’s kissing her “true love” Rick or making out with Carter, I root for Maya.  Perhaps it’s her big brown doe eyes, which seem to be a window to her soul.  Mosley is very pretty and looked downright beautiful in this week’s Forrester fashion show.

 * Bill Spencer (played by Don Diamont), B&B.   No, I don’t really like him, but I love to hate this adulterous cheater. His macho attitude and silver jewelry are so over the top they make him laughable. Here’s a guy whose ego always walks ten feet in front of him,  guaranteeing trouble for all the ladies on the show.

 Which soap characters make your day in these dog days of summer?  

 

The Bold and the Beautiful: Is There Still Right and Wrong?

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

There she was in an evening dress with her beautiful blonde hair put up in a sophisticated bun, running through the streets of Monte Carlo.  All of a sudden she was caught up into the arms of a strong, dark  handsome man, and the two embraced in hard kiss.

Brooke and Bill are at it again.

Was it Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in the 1955  Alfred Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief? No, it was Brooke Logan (Katherine Kelly Lang) running from and then being captured in the arms of Bill Spencer (Don Diamont) this week on The Bold and the Beautiful.

There was only one thing wrong with this beautiful footage on the classic soap.  Instead of rooting for Brooke and Bill, we were generally rooting against them.Which is very strange for a soap.  As we know, Bill is married to Katie (multi Emmy winner Heather Tom),  Brooke’s sister, and has been caught cheating on her with Brooke in the past.  Now, after Brooke miscarried Bill’s child, we were asked to root for the cheating  couple again, as the betrayed Katie dissolved into tears once more in the living room  of the Spencers’ Los Angeles mansion.

Is weepy Katie the architect of her own misery?

Was this new betrayal Katie’s fault? After all, Katie had set up a spying system of cameras and microphones in the same living room  to catch her husband and sister together.  Although they had acted innocently, Bill eventually found out about being spied upon and used his outrage as an excuse to pursue Brooke to Monte Carlo. Had Katie set herself up for misery yet again, by pushing Bill into Brooke’s arms?  She’s done it before!

So, whose side are we supposed to be on? B&B is asking viewers to choose, and it’s a difficult choice. Yes, yes, the heart has its reasons and all that. But seriously, is adultery still wrong?  We know it is, and so we root against Bill and Brooke.  Yet, on the other hand, they are a handsome, sexy and strangely alluring couple.  And yet, on the other other hand, we feel for poor Katie — always the victim, always awash in tears, betrayed by the two people she says she loves most in the world.

Is it right for a soap have a right to encourage fans root for what’s wrong?  Some might say old fashioned moral judgments are just too, well, old fashioned for today’s for soap viewers.   Or are they?  Do you share Marlena’s queasiness about the glamorous Brooke and Bill romance? Do you feel sorry for Katie, or do you think she brings about her own misery? Do you think this is a good soap story, or one that is at heart a love triangle that is too morally confusing for comfort? 

The Bold and the Beautiful Reaches a Pinnacle of Soapy Goodness!

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

Every soap generation has its touchstone moment. It usually happens when a plot turn is so soapy good it earns your allegiance to its characters for decades.  Mine occurred on Another World in the 70s when Alice (Jacqueline Courtney), engaged to Steve (George Reinholt), found out her sister-in-law Rachel (Robin Strasser) was pregnant with Steve’s baby.  Oh, the magnificent melodramatic pain and heartbreak of it all!

Hasty horndogs Brooke and Bill

For younger soap viewers, such a touchstone moment may have occurred this week on The Bold and the Beautiful.  At Brooke’s birthday party, Taylor interrupted all the testimonials to Brooke’s virtue by blurting out the truth — that Brooke had slept with her brother-in-law Bill, getting pregnant.  At the time, wife Katie had taken off her wedding ring and lay unconscious in the hospital. Did horndogs Brooke and Bill have to hop into bed so fast? Quelle horreur!

These revelation scenes were so fantastic because they were almost a year in coming, and the actors really milked the episodes of emotions for all they were worth.  Exhibiting the talent and passion that brought Heather Tom three Best Actress Emmys, Katie wept piteously and became entirely bitter.  The excellent Katharine Kelly Lang as the cringewowrthy Brooke also cried, overwhelmed by the shame the character had truly earned. Most interestingly, Don Diamont as the ever arrogant Bill went on the defensive, saying Katie had driven him to sleep wIth Brooke by constantly throwing them together.  How could Katie – or any other woman — care for this incredible nasty bastard ever again? Playing the villainy it for all it was worth, Diamont was the perfect slime.  

Such great soap moments can only come together though the seamless work of cast, writers, producers and crew. The headwriter here was Bradley Bell, and Bell is also the show’s executive producer.   Individual episodes during the week were written by Adam Dusevoir and the great Patrick Mulcahey, an Emmy-winning veteran of Santa Barbara and General Hospital.

It was just another great week of well-acted, nicely written and hard-hitting drama on B&B — not to be forgotten, perhaps, by a new generation of viewers. And it’s not even sweeps month!

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.

The Bold and the Beautiful: Three Into Two Won’t Go

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

The Bold and the Beautiful is just past its 25th birthday and carries on doing  what it does best:   love triangles.  The show’s  theme might as well be, Three Into Two Won’t Go, which was the title  of an English movie I remember from 1969. Apart from the nifty title, it was a fairly pretentious Swinging Sixties exercise about a middle-aged man (Rod Steiger) who falls for a young woman hitchhiker (Judy Geeson), who proceeds to become a boarder in his and his wife’s (Claire Bloom) home. Soaps really do some things better from time to time, even without such a heavyweight cast.

Darin Brooks

Consider first the triangle that has all but consumed the show — Steffy-Liam-Hope. It’s finally at an end, though perhaps only temporarily if Jacqueline MacInnes Wood hasn’t really left the show for good, and is instead just on a long hiatus.  Wood did spectacular work on her way out as Steffy learned she  could never have children and left for Paris without appraising Liam of that fact.  Before  exiting, she “gave” Liam to Hope. But the ever  besotted Hope has just  met a new man, Wyatt, played by cute Emmy winner  Darin Brooks, who used to play Max on Days of Our Lives. So one good triangle smoothly should replace another. And it’s about time Hope stopped being so hung up on Liam, who did her wrong with Steffy numerous times.

Karla Mosely

Another promising new triangle is now arising, to be known henceforth as Maya-Rick-Caroline. Caroline wants to marry Rick, but now he only has eyes for Maya, an ex-con.  Lindsay Godfrey is immeasurably better now that her character has turned into a bad girl. But the show has a made a major find in sparkling Karla Mosley as Maya.  She plays strength and independence well, something unusual for a B&B heroine. As Rick, Jacob Young, an old soap pro, has the chops to play a very effective leading man to both women who are vying for his embrace.

But the best triangle on the show is Brooke-Bill-Katie.  Don Diamont, who plays Bill, and Katherine Kelly Lang, who plays Brooke, are an electric pairing with great sexual magnetism. Their attraction is forbidden and lurid Bill, who  is married to Brooke’s sister Katie, played by Heather Tom, who just won her third Daytime Emmy in the role. Brooke just dodged  a bullet: turns out she was not pregnant after all following a one night stand with Bill.  But that doesn’t mean this love triangle is over.  Au contraire.  On B&B love triangles have a habit of going on forever and with such a worthy cast, here’s hoping this one will, too. too. 

A Negative Vote on This Year’s Daytime Emmys

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

Last year I praised HLN’s first production of the Daytime Emmys because it was straightforward and lean.  This year’s show was exactly the opposite — overlong (almost three hours) and full of things that just shouldn’t have been included.  Boring!

Doug Davidson and his well-deserved and long overdue Best Actor award (Photo by Richard ShotwellInvision/AP)

How about that couch?  I’m talking about the one on which winners were interviewed by such “journalists” as Giada Di Laurantiis and Sheryl Underwood.  At least some of the winners — Best Actor Doug Davidson and Best Supporting Actress Julie Marie Berman, for instance — handled themselves well and with grace in the awkward situation.  There was just too much stuff stuffed into the show — like two Lifetime Achievement awards (Monty Hall and Bob Stewart) and presentation of three generic Best Song performances by co-host Robin Meade (who is at least a pretty woman with a nice voice).  Nancy Lee Grahn’s brief comedy bits filmed outdoors were not very good..

The whole problem with the show is that in content it aimed to be a major network presentation, but missed because of poor and cheap production.  It makes us remember and appreciate what a good job Dick Clark Productions did with the show over the years.  The hosts — Sam Champion, A.J. Hammer and Meade — were just meh, and scattershot appearances by them did nothing to keep the whole production feeling cohesive.  All in all, the 40th annual Daytime Emmys was a production not befitting of its own lofty aims or of the hard work done on daytime television by so many creative people over the year.

The winners in most of the acting categories, on the other hand, were well chosen.  Finally, Davidson deservedly won his Best Actor statuette after 35 years in the show in a very emotional storyline on The Young and the Restless (Paul shot his would-be murderer son Ricky.)   The Bold and the Beautiful’s Heather Tom always excels, particularly in her storyline in which Katie suffered a near-psychotic breakdown after the birth of her son.  And General Hospital’s Julie Marie Berman’s win as Best Supporting Actress was a good parting gift from the show.

Speaking of GH, wasn’t the show shortchanged in a year when the big awards (Best Show, Best Writing, Best Direction) went to B&B. Not that B&B had a bad year (it was very good, especially with the scenes leading up to Stephanie’s death), but GH literally had its finest years in decades, an everyday must-see show which corrected the mistakes made by the horribly crime-centric longtime headwriter Bob Guza.  Except for an underserved award for Best Young Actress to Kristen Alderson (while she was still playing Starr Manning), GH deserved many more awards and  rewards this year.

On Days of Our Lives, Chandler Massey was rewarded for a very nice job with Best Younger Actor. Then the show went on to score the evening’s the real upset – Days won as Best Soap.  As bitterly noted by executive producer Ken Corday in his acceptance speech, this was the first time in 38 years the show had won the ultimate award.

So, Thinking Fans, did Days deserve it?

Franco: Make or Break for General Hospital?

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

Maura West

So let’s take a survey.  How many Thinking Fans think Roger Howarth’s great charm as an actor can overcome the unbelievable maneuvers that have been made to bring back evil Franco as a viable everyday character?  Erasing Franco’s responsibility for the  rapes of Sam and Michael has taken quite a bit of tap dancing by headwriter Ron Carlivati, and I find the moves bizarre to say the least. I guess they had to give Howarth a character with some bad boy flavor, but Franco? Tell me what you think of this decision and whether or not you think it will make or break General Hospital’s current ratings. They’ve taken quite the risk here, je pense.

Emme Rylan

An additional thought from moi:  the very strong additions of Emme Rylan (new Lulu) and Maura West (Ava Jerome) just might also be enough to counterbalance any kind of ratings or popularity hit the show may take because of the Franco fiasco.  Que pensez-vous?

The Bold and the Beautiful:  Seductive Brooke Strikes Out

I’ve watched Brooke Logan flit around as a practicing sex addict on The Bold and the Beautiful for more than twenty-five years now.   But she’s never have been as pathetic as she was this week when she used all her seductive moves to get Eric to leave  Taylor and “father”  her unborn baby (who was really conceived with brother-in law Bill Spencer?).  Eric resisted her moves!  He’s usually so easily seduced  and Brooke is usually such a successful seductress.  By this point Eric should really be looking into senior housing. But Katherine Kelly Lang’s Brooke will probably never get too old to pull her patented seduction act.   How truly refreshing it was to see Eric say no  – at least for now — to the usually irresistible Brooke.

The Young and the Restless:  A Classy Tribute for a Classy Lady

What a classy and truly meaningful episode-long tribute The Young and the Restless did for the late Jeanne Cooper this week.   In forty years of soap watching, I can’t remember this amount of time being allotted to a departed actor in this way.   It was so sweet to have the entire cast share their memories of Cooper with the audience.  I could have done without their tales of Cooper’s habit of pinching all the young male character’s body parts, though. But I guess it’s nice to know that that even a lady full of class could be naughty once and a while.

The 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Nominations: Some Killer Choices!

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

What do you think of the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy nominees?  The list is long and illustrative given the fact that there are only four soaps.  Several categories are full of names that are most deserving. It would be very hard to cast a decisive vote should one have the opportunity.

Katherine Kelly Lang

Consider the lead actor category:  You’ve got an actor who created a real splash in General Hospital this year, Jason Thompson, who was brilliant as his Patrick Drake mourned the death of his wife Robin.  Then you’ve got the always dependable actors in the category — Peter Bergman (Jack, The Young and the Restless), Doug Davidson (Paul, Y&R) and Michael Muhney (Adam, Y&R).  Although Muhney is a great personal favorite of mine, I don’t know who did the superior job of all these outstanding actors.

Then there’s lead actress:  Who can beat Susan Flannery, who played Stephanie’s march to death so memorably on The Bold and the Beautiful? Or Heather Tom, who played Katie’s post-partum depression, also on B&B? Also excellent as was Days of Our Lives’ Peggy McCay who played Caroline’s Alzheimer’s suffering so skillfully.  Formidable, too, is Y&R’s always dependable Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), who also shone in that category.  Again, who to vote for?

For Best Supporting Actress, I’d definitely cast my vote for first time nominee (it’s about time) Katherine Kelly Lang of B&B, who played Stephanie’s best friend Brooke so beautifully and soulfully through Stephanie’s fabulously written final story. Here is an actress who has grown incredibly since her debut on the show 25 years ago, and definitely deserves recognition, not just for this year but for her long body of work.

And what about Best Show?  Can anyone beat GH, which had one of the best years in its history?  On the other hand, it’s hard to top B&B, with its brilliantly produced stories of Katie’s post-partum depression and the death of Stephanie.

Talk about killer choices. With only four surviving soaps contributing nominees, the work the voters had to choose from is all exciting and memorable. No matter who wins, the quality of all the nominees argues persuasively for the future of network soaps. Here’s hoping TPTB are paying attention.

This year’s Emmy Award ceremonies will be broadcast June 16 on HLN.

General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful: The Decisions of Great Showmen

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

For the last year, I have been writing what great showmen executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati are with their crackerjack rescue of General Hospital.   As I wrote last week, the Nurses Week was a blast, with the windup this week as wonderful as its beginnings. I loved Sabrina and scrumptious Emma singing “Call Me Maybe” and the boys of Port Charles doing a shirtless strip (down to their shorts, which spelled out sequentially “Nurses Ball.”)   Epiphany and the Revelations (Tracy and Monica) were great, finishing up the show singing “Jump.” The final act, with Patrick, Sabrina and Emma singing “You Are not Alone” with the whole cast, was sublime.  The 2013 revival of the Nurses Ball will always be remembered!

Still divinely sexy, Robert Kelker-Kelly is back as Stavros Cassadine

But what did you think of Valentini and Carlivati’s follow-up?  The revelation that Prince Stavros Cassadine (the divinely sexy if older Robert Kelker-Kelly) was alive and holding his kidnapped  Lulu frozen as his new “Ice Princess” was either a show-stopper or a bomb, depending on what you think — and Marlena does want to know what you think!  Was it typical Carlivati over the top writing?  Or was it a just spectacular enough a follow-up to the Nurses Ball?I thought it was all way over the top.  Genie Francis’ Laura was way overwrought, but I guess her getting all hysterical (after all Stavros had held her and raped her, producing Nicolas) was in character.  But then again, Marlena was never a Cassadine fan.  What do you think of Laura, Luke and Dante’s rescue of Lulu?    What do you think of that great line from Stavros, “I’m a Prince, and she’s my Ice Princess?”  Too much for vous or what?  I found myself not liking the new Cassadine revival, but I kept tuning in day after day anyway.

Which is what the real GH showmen wanted and did achieve here, n’est-ce-pas? What do you think of the whole Cassadine revival?

The Bold and Beautiful Gets Sexy

Speaking of showmen, what did you think of the fact that Bradley Bell finally brought sex back to daytime TV?   In other words, after months of unbearable tension he finally had in-laws    Brooke and Bill (those whores!) make love not minutes after Katie took off her rings and walked off from her husband.  It was forbidden, it was heartbreaking (literally Katie’s was, landing her unconscious in the hospital) but it was undeniably hot, hot, hot!!!!

So what do you think of Brooke’s latest seduction?   Do you like Brooke and Bill as a couple or are the two just too immoral to bear?  Will they have to pay the price or their forbidden act?