Disgraceful, Delightful and Disgusting: This Week’s Soap Events

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

Ashlyn Pearce is Aly

From The Young and the Restless: This week Nick found out that a doppelganger for his dead daughter Cassie has been in town for months disgracefully spooking Sharon into getting shock treatments.  The look-alike (who doesn’t even have a name) admitted the sham and said that Victor had been paying her to impersonate Cassie.

When confronted, Victor tried to use every trick in the book to get out of admitting his guilt.  His main tactic was to say that Sharon herself has a secret and that she is no good for Nick.  Sharon decided not to press charges against the fake Cassie and Victor, so the net effect is that Victor gets away with yet another crime.  Why is Victor never caught or prosecuted for his treacherous, often criminal acts on Y&R?  It gets unbelievable after a while.

From The Bold and the Beautiful:  This week a delightful romance bloomed between late teenager Aly (Ashlyn Pearce) and Oliver (Zack Conroy).  Their kiss-filled scenes were very refreshing, including a pool sceneat the Forrester mansion involving underwater photography.  “She did a 180,” Carter raved about Alex’s personality switch from sour to sweet and in love to Maya, who didn’t believe that Oliver was sincere in his new affections for Aly.

But Aly is going to need all of her strength now that it is revealed that her father Thorne is sexually involved once again with Taylor.  Fifteen years ago, Taylor ran over and killed Aly’s mother Darla in a car accident and Aly has been a troubled, mercurial soul ever since, frequently acting out her anger.  Will the young sweet romance of Oliver and Ally, one of the nicest thing to happen on daytime in ages,  be able to survive all of Aly’s troubles and personality swings? 

From General Hospital:  Sonny just gets deeper and deeper into his troubles after shooting and murdering A.J.  This week, the very day of  A.J.’s funeral (which questionably centered more on Sonny than on memories of A.J.)  Sonny and Ava disgustingly made love in the Quartermaine tomb.   They were immediately caught by Morgan, Sonny’s son and Ava’s longtime love.  Can you imagine a father making love to his son’s girlfriend?  Yuck!  Morgan  is just about to tell Olivia, Sonny’s love, of his infidelity.  Will Olivia be able to forgive Sonny?   Regardless, Sonny is on a fast road to self-destruction.  Even though it is fascinating watching Maurice Benard’s performances as the disintegrating Sonny, this is indeed a sad story to watch.

Are You Buying These Fanciful Plot Twists?

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

Camryn Grimes, welcome back as Cassie look-alike

In their drive to create more and more entertaining soap opera, writers sometimes devise situations that are fanciful and, to put it bluntly, hard to believe.  After all, soap viewers will buy anything, right?  Wrong.  Recently, three soaps have come up with situations which Marlena finds incredibly hard to buy:

The Young and the Restless faux Cassie:  As Y&R viewers know, Cassie, daughter of Nick and Sharon, died when she was quite young.  Recently, Sharon has been shown having extensive conversations with what she thought was Cassie’s ghost.  But she really is a Cassie a look-alike, hired by Victor, who is in quest of finding out Sharon’s secret (that Nick really fathered Summer, not Jack).  How would Victor find an exact Cassie look-alike, especially one of the right age?  This story is cruel, and even took more of a cruel turn when Sharon turned to electroshock therapy (ECT) to extinguish her visions of Cassie.  It is good, however — especially in scenes with Sharon Case — to see an adult Camryn Grimes, who is again playing Cassie, or more correctly, her look-alike.

The Bold and the Beautiful’s suddenly crazy, neurotic Aly Forrester: When Ashlyn Pearce debuted as Forrester granddaughter Aly, she brought a real breath of fresh young air to the show, which is mostly filled with older adults.  So how sad it is to see her character descend into a kind of neurotic madness, as she has taken to a real hatred of Hope’s suitor Wyatt Fuller. She will do anything to destroy Wyatt, because she feels he destroys Hope’s wholesome values, as made famous by the publicity for Hope’s “Hope for the Future” line of fashion.  Recently, Aly has even been seen talking to her dead mother Darla, who was killed in an auto crash long ago.  We hope this character makes a quite recovery from all this craziness and is not ruined for good.

General Hospital’s A.J. is shot and Luke is not what he seems to be:  Recently, GH has had a lot of fanciful storylines,  not the least of which was that A.J. was shot by Sonny, supposedly because he killed Connie, which he did not. (Ava has confessed to the murder.)   All his life A.J. has been endlessly and sometimes unbelievably in  trouble, his antics filling way too many hours of GH drama.  Remember when he, a life-long drunk, conceived Michael in the street with Carly?  Remember when Sonny hung A.J. from a meat hook?   This time, no matter how many times he swore not to destroy A.J., his son’s Michael’s biological father, Sonny took a shot at A.J.  Will he live to die?  Actor Sean Kanan is leaving the show.

And if we are to believe GH’s Friday cliffhanger, it turns out that Luke is the one who has been bankrolling mobster Julian Jerome after all.  Huh?  Sure, Luke has not been himself since he was wrongly imprisoned in Heather’s lunatic asylum.  But where would he get the money or the resources to be behind such a major mobster like Julian?

Y&R: Nikki Newman’s Great Strength

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

Melody Thomas Scott

One of the great things about daytime soap opera is how strong the women characters generally are.  They have to be that way to survive the problems continually thrown at them in their everyday lives. At the same time, they must be vulnerable to the vagaries of romance. The head may know best, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

One of daytime’s strongest women characters is also one of its historically most vulnerable. She is Nikki Newman, as played with such phenomenal depth and power for the last thirty years by Melody Thomas Scott on The Young and the Restless.  For the last six months Nikki has been fighting a situation that has shaken her to her very core:  She found out the baby she gave up to adoption as a young teenager is in fact the new man in town, Dylan McAvoy (Steve Burton). How, she wonders, can she earn his filial devotion?

The baby was conceived under very shady circumstances.  As a young girl, Nikki joined a cult led by a very influential, shifty and pushy man named Ian Ward.  Ward seduced the young girl and Nikki carried the baby to term, giving it up for good with the assistance of some local nuns.

One of the first things Nikki did after she revealed herself to the grown Dylan as his mother was to make sure that he knew that Ian, the rat, is his biological father.  Dylan researched Ian and found out he was still up to his old tricks, living as a shady youth counselor named John Darwin.  Darwin came to Genoa City and has since haunted the lives both of Nikki and Dylan.

Ian’s unwanted attention has been particularly frightful for Nikki, especially when he breaks the security of the Newman estate and shows up in Nikki’s living room.   But what’s really tested Nikki is Ian’s plot to similarly influence and seduce her young granddaughter Summer, who is the daughter of Nikki’s other son Nick Newman.

As played so beautifully by Scott, Nikki is able to be strong despite her fear. Even though she was frightened, she stood up to Ian, telling him she is not afraid of him.  He requested a $5 million payoff to leave town, and Nikki showed up with a fraction of the amount.  Then she scared him away from Summer, demonstrating her great strength as a character and a leading lady.

One of the great highlights of this plot has been the performance of Ray Wise, a soap opera veteran and perhaps best known for the role of Leland Palmer on Twin Peaks.  His Ian Ward is just the right shades of charming and smarmy and has had wonderful scenes with both Scott and Hunter King, who plays Summer.

Now that Ward has been exposed as a scoundrel, will he turn up dead?  And will it be Nikki — or someone else — who kills him? 

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.  

The Ho-Hum, Overly Violent Carly Kidnapping Denouement

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

Laura Wright’s Carly: Of course she was rescued!

We’ve already said that General Hospital’s Heather-kidnapping-Carly plot was a big ho-hum. Heather tried to blame it on Franco, her son, who had previously tried to kill Heather, his mother. No surprise, the accusation went nowhere and the outcome was predictable: Carly, a central GH character, just had to be rescued. And what of Heather getting loose from the asylum? So what else is new? No institution has succeeded in keeping her locked up for the past thirty years.

Sorry to report that the denouement of the story in which Franco found Carly in the Wyndemere catacombs was every bit a disappointment, despite its excessive violence – calculated, perhaps, to cover the lackluster story in fake blood. First, Franco was shot escaping prison, and then shot again by his mom, a wound not grievous enough to prevent him from stabbing her in the leg.

The rescue of wounded Franco and the trussed up Carly was finally accomplished by Anna and Nathan.  Franco and Carly  were seen declaring their love for one another.  How sweet. We can’t tell you how happy we are that two of the most unsavory characters in all of soap operas have finally found romantic nirvana with one another.

Three Couples and One Friendship to Watch in 2014

Romance is, after all, the soul of soap opera. So, if Franco and Carly don’t : warm your heart, here are three pairings that just might :

Ridge and Katie (Thorsten Kaye and Heather Tom) on The Bold and the Beautiful. These two characters, played by uncommonly terrific actors,  are in love but haven’t declared it yet.  You know that because they have had a recent romp in the park and suddenly Ridge and Katie have developed a mutual interest in poetry. Now they can read to each other, a particular treat when it’s Kaye’s turn, given his English accent and dulcet tones.

Ava and Morgan (Maura West and  Bryan Craig ) on General Hospital.  Who would have thought that a lurid affair between a 19 year old and an older woman could turn into GH’s deepest, most meaningful love story?  Chemistry and very good acting have lifted this pairing from something superficial to something sublime.

Julian and Alexis (William deVry and Nancy Lee Grahn) also on GH. Who would have thought that an almost renewed  affair between grandparents would be indescribably sexy? After all, this pair conceived Sam over three decades ago.  DeVry and Grahn have great chemistry despite what looks to be an age difference of about a decade.

And in the friendship department, keep an eye on Chloe and Chelsea (Elizabeth Hendrickson and Melissa Claire Egan) on The Young and the Restless. These two are best friends and are always refreshing to watch because of the great degree of honesty between them.  Chloe was right when Adam turned out to be a louse, running over and killing Delia.  What Chelsea didn’t count on was that Chloe was so jealous of her motherhood of Connor she’d wind up kidnapping him, as she did on Friday.

General Hospital: Robin’s Reason to Leave Is Unbelievable

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

Is Kimberly McCullough’s Robin leaving again?

One of the bad things about General Hospital  is that it grows so unbelievable at times.  For example, how many would-be killer psychos can one town have at a time?  Right now, we have four:  Heather, Dr. Obrecht, Franco and Ava.

But unbelievably, the unbelievability gets worse: there are ham-handed hints that Robin is about to be written out. What? She just got back, right? And, in one of the best soap storylines in ages, laid claim to the husband and daughter she left behind. Now, Victor Cassadine has returned as the new head of the WUSB and wants Robin to leave her family to help him  resurrect three cryogenically frozen people: Stavros,  Helena and possibly Jason.

Again, WHAT? Why in the world would Robin want to leave Patrick and Emma after two long years away from them?  True, Sabrina is pregnant. But so what? Robin is too major a character for GH to contrive such a careless and improbable second exit for her.

Will smarter heads prevail? Let’s hope so.

FOUR TO WATCH IN 2014

One of the joys of soap opera is the introduction of new talent that constantly goes on as new actors are hired to play new parts.  It’s a pleasure to see how well soap casting directors do their jobs and how well actors fit into the roles.   Here are four relatively new  actors who have worked out quite well.

Ashlyn Pearce — Alexandria “Ali”  Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful.  Beautiful and a bit understated, Pearce is the perfect actress to play Ali,  the new Forrester grandchild.  She even looks like Ali’s father Thorne (actor Winsor Harmon).  Recently Aly has expressed  interest in Liam.  Can she can wrest him away from Hope, to whom he appears hopelessly attached?

Sean  Carrigan –  Stitch Rayburn, The Young and the Restless. When Dylan needed a former Army buddy confidante,  hunky  Carrigan was cast as his now doctor friend.    Carrigan is an all-around good actor who fills that role nicely, and at the same time has nice chemistry with all the women on the show, especially Amelia Heinle, who plays Victoria.

Ryan Paevey — Nathan West, GH.  Detective West came to Port Charles on the trail of Silas, who supposedly murdered his wife twenty years ago.  Paevey is quite good looking, can act well and plays a police detective quite believably.  

Ryan Carnes — Lucas Jones, GH.  Carnes who plays Lucas Jones, who has just returned to Port Charles, isn’t new to the show.  He played the role last in 2006.  He is a good actor and showed his stuff mightily in recent scenes in which Lucas told his biological father Julian Jerome (William deVry) that he is gay.  Lucas has recently Felix’ boyfriend Brad.

All Hail Friday Cliffhangers!

By Marlena Delacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

One of the most important and unique of all daytime soap opera conventions is the Friday cliffhanger.   On Friday, at the end of a week’s worth of episodes, either a secret is exposed or something significant happens which creates big suspense, compelling the audience to want to tune in to the show on Monday.  This past Friday, our shows sprung some masterful cliffhangers, propelling viewers to tune in this Monday, which after all is the beginning of February sweeps.

On The Young and the Restless, it was disclosed to Michael that Carmine is still alive, while at the very same time Michael’s son Fen was about to be sentenced on a plea deal for his murder. The Baldwins’ interaction with Carmine, who started it all by having an affair with Lauren, has lasted the last two good years on the show.  Now if Carmine isn’t dead, and Michael and Fen aren’t suspects in his “murder” any longer, what kind of storyline, if any at all, will the Baldwins have?

On The Bold and the Beautiful, looking for a way to keep Brooke away from Ridge, Brooke’s former lover Bill stumbled across some pictures on the internet revealing what exactly Ridge was doing during his year in Paris.  The pictures, which he presented to Brooke, showed Ridge hugging another man while the two grasped a rainbow flag.  Ridge, gay?  Well, that’s a stunner. Kudos to the writers for contriving such apparently unimpeachable evidence of this shocking secret. Could it be a mistake? After all, during more than  twenty-five years on the show, Ridge has always been presented as the most heterosexual of men.  Well, you never know …

On General Hospital, Kiki visited her “grandmother” Heather at the Miscavage Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Only the catatonic blond she saw from the back turned out to be Luke, who had disappeared after confronting the real Heather, who had kidnapped Carly in the Quartermaine stables.  Tracy had just reported Luke missing at the police station. This is quite a shocker and not the most logical of cliffhangers. However, did Heather get Luke into that state and transport him to the insane asylum?   We’ll just have to tune in Monday to see.

The biggest of all Friday cliffhangers, up to which Y&R has been building the last year, might have been ruined by some advance casting news.  As you know Adam and Billy drove off the road after Adam admitted at last to being the hit and run driver who killed Delia. On Friday, Paul and Nick discovered the wrecked car.  Seems one of the car’s occupants –who? — had escaped before the car blew up into a fireball at the end of Friday’s show.

Soap news followers know that Michael Muhney, who plays  Adam, is leaving the show, as is Billy Miller, who plays Billy.  Billy has been recast with actor David Tom, who has played the role in the past. So is Billy is to be the survivor of the wreck ?  What happens to Adam?  Y&R viewers will just have to tune in Monday, and many days after that to find the answer to Adam’s disappearance.

Young and Restless Is Obsessed With Secrets

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

Watching The Young and the Restless this month is one big wait for the other shoe to drop. Most of the big storylines on the show revolve around a big secret that if disclosed could have dire consequences for the characters involved.  Was the confluence of so many secrets held at once a coincidence or was it all deliberately planned by the writers?

Hunter Haley King

First, Summer (Hunter Haley King) OD’d this week on “energy” pills she had secretly been taking.  She’s had some sort of “heart” episode.   As of this writing she lies in the hospital unconscious (just like her mother Phyllis!).  Of course the big secret here is that Sharon has concealed the fact that Nick is Summer’s biological father, not Jack. Sharon switched the paternity tests. This secret is almost a year old.  Will Sharon finally tell Nick the truth if the facts of her parentage are needed for Summer’s successful medical treatment?

Then there’s Billy’s secret: he slept with Kelly.  Kelly of course is his friend from the grief support group.  Both lost a child and bonded over this experience.  Should Billy’s wife Victoria find out about it, that could spell the end of Billy and Victoria’s marriage.  As a side note, Kelly is also hiding a past relationship with that handsome Dr. Stich.        

Then there’s Adam’s big secret: he is the one who hit and killed Delia.  He has been guiltily of it for months as Delia’s grieving father Billy and the Genoa City police department come closer and closer to finding out the truth.  Adam set up a memorial fund and until recently held the secret that he was the chief donor. Finally, his participation in the fund was revealed to Billy.

But right now it looks like Adam will get away with his crime.  He and Chelsea are planning to get married within a couple of days and start a new life in Paris.  Over at the Genoa City Police department,  Kevin is close to finding out the hit-and-run-driver’s identity via computer investigation.  Billy found a flower from Adam’s apartment at the site of Delia’s accident which is now a memorial.

 It seems only a matter of days (in fact it will happen this week) until Adam is finally named the hit-and-run driver both by Billy and the police.  The resulting drama should be worth the wait as there will be an explosive climax to the story.

 Secrets are fine, but what ever happened to the days when soap operas were all about romance?  Instead, Y&R seems obsessed with using the secret as a plot device.  Sure, secrets bring big suspense and keep viewers tuning in day after day.   But what ever happened to love in the afternoon?    

The Young and the Restless: Still the One

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

For the last month or so, The Young and the Restless has been carrying promotional spots celebrating the soap’s 25th anniversary as number one in the ratings.  It is quite an achievement. How did Y&R do it? By being consistently different from other soaps, particularly in its very idiosyncratic story structure.

The pace of the storylines on Y&R is much slower than on any other soaps. It takes forever for things to happen, and especially for secrets to be revealed.  For example, it’s been many months since Sharon lied to Nick, telling him that Summer is not the biological daughter, Jack is.  Too, Chelsea lied to Dylan for her entire pregnancy plus a few months more that the baby was his.  Connor was really fathered by Adam.  And talk about a long time — the oft-interrupted romance between former spouses Nick and Sharon is well into its second decade.

The  idiosyncratic structure of Y&R probably makes this soap very difficult to write. Many of the characters have been around for decades, and their personalities are hard to change to meet story specifications.   For example, how could Victor ever not be a suspicious bastard, never believing what people tell him and causing trouble for others.

Another problem for the writing team is that a lot of characters seem to have a certain fate. For example, neither Adam nor Jack will ever be winners.  Right now Adam seems to be headed to certain imprisonment should the fact that he ran over Delia be exposed. And Jack is a perpetual loser in love.  His latest love, Phyllis, is in a seemingly irreversible coma.

Also challenging the writers is the number of backstage events that must be accommodated for the show to run its course.  For example, last week TMZ revealed that Michael Muhney was accused of sexual harassment and fired.  Thus, Adam must be written off the show, at least for a while until the role is recast.

Further complicating things is the number of departures from the show this year. Billy Miller (Billy) is leaving the show after disagreement over his future contracts, and the role has been recast with David Tom, who used to play the role. Of course, last year Jeanne Cooper (Mrs. Chancellor) died and Michelle Stafford voluntarily left the show, leaving their characters to be written out.

Yet, Y&R continues to succeed, overcoming all roadblocks and remaining number one. Here’s to another twenty years on top! 

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!