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! 

Merry Christmas, Thinking Fans!

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

Merry Christmas from Nigel

Merry Christmas from Nigel

There I was this week watching The Bold and the Beautiful and scratching my head.  How many interrupted weddings can Hope and Liam have?  After all, Steffy broke up the first wedding with news she was pregnant, and here she was back with the news for Liam that after her miscarriage, she was no longer infertile.  Pre-ceremony, Hope saw Steffy and Liam together talking privately, freaked out and ran away with Wyatt (for whom I am rooting because he’s so charming ) to Hawaii.  But will Liam and Hope ever get together and marry?

It’s something I ponder every week along with questions such as, will General Hospital’s  Patrick and Robin get back together now that she has returned from the dead, or will the plot will complicated by the fact that Sabrina might be pregnant? On The Young and Restless, will I grow to like the mother Nikki and reclaimed biological son Dylan even though they have no chemistry and are two of the flakiest characters ever showcased on a soap opera?

But there’s one question I’m not pondering this week.  Do I want you, my beloved readers, to have a merry and a happy Christmas?  Of course I do and I send you holiday hugs and kisses along with the best wishes of my hubby/editor Moose and our sweet dog Nigel.  We’re ensconced in our country home with our tree, decorations and many good things to eat and we’re celebrating.  There’s nothing we like better than the fact that we can celebrate the holidays along with our own dear Thinking Fans.

So from our family to yours, have the merriest of Christmases!

Love,

 Marlena, Moose and Nigel

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.    

An Excruciating Episode of The Young and the Restless

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

Is it right or wrong for a daytime soap opera to kill off a baby or a child?  After all, a large part of the viewing audience is young mothers, and they could find such a sequence unbearable to watch.  After watching little Delia Abbott get hit by a car on Friday’s episode of The Young and the  Restless, I’d likely vote it’s wrong to do such a storyline.

Sophie Pollono as Delia Abbott

Killing off a child provides harrowing drama. But the problem with Friday’s episode was that it was so harrowing, it was thoroughly overwrought and over played. Everything was calculated to make the viewer feel pain.

Billy Abbott (Billy Miller) did what a parent should not do: he left his daughter Delia in the car when he went into a store to buy ice cream.  She opened the door and chased her dog down the road when he hopped out.  Then Adam (or perhaps it was Nikki, who was also out driving that night) came barreling down the road and hit her.

It took almost an entire episode for the ambulance to arrive, during which Billy, alone with his comatose daughter, ruminated over his mistake.  These scenes were unbearable.  Even worse were scenes in which we saw what Billy will likely miss — fantasy scenes of his daughter’s forthcoming (if she is still alive) graduation, wedding, childbirth and grown years in which Billy and daughter operated his restaurant as “Delia and Dad.”

In these treacly scenes (in which Dad kept saying “I love you” over and over) Delia was played by a series of older actresses . Miller soldiered on as an older and older Billy, although the actor was minimally aged.  Each scene was engineered to evoke a tear. I’m sure many viewers couldn’t take the extreme melodrama of a tragically missed future and tuned out.

Meanwhile, Delia’s mother Chloe was shown at the movies, innocently making out with her ex-husband Kevin. On Monday, presumably Delia will die from her injuries.

This is not the first time a baby or a child was killed on a soap opera, but it’s certainly the most extreme. In the 1950s Lisa’s son Chucky was killed on As the World Turns when he was hit by a car.

In the most famous example of a child being killed, little Laura, daughter of Brooke and Tom, was hit by a drunken driver on All My Children.  This storyline at least was done with the cooperation of the real Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and was a critical hit.  It said something powerful about drunk drivers.

But Delia’s accident and impending death so far has been pointless.  All it did was create some excitement on a show that for so long has lacked much.  That is if you could bear watching Friday’s episode.  I breathed a huge sigh of real relief as soon as it was over. 

Barely on the Fringe of Believability

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

On soaps, romance comes in many permutations, some exhilarating and some, shall we say, less so.  Far out on the latter end of the spectrum is the romance that seems to be on the horizon on The Bold and Beautiful. I’d place it solidly in the category of “Ew!”

We got our first clue this week when jewelry company head Quinn kissed Forrester CEO Eric for not cancelling her contract with the company.  The kiss of gratitude was clearly meant to be romantic. But he’s decades older than she is, and the big smooch came off as gross and most unbelievable. The second clue came the next day when Eric kissed her back, and it was like Grandpa lip-locking his granddaughter.  Are we ready for this May-December pairing? Pas moi!

Keeping It Real

It’s a soap’s obligation to present situations that feel absolutely real to the viewer.  This week two  soaps came up with storyline turns that, to put it mildly, felt very contrived.   Do these diseases really have such immediate and radical consequences?   

 – On General Hospital, Sonny, a manic-depressive, went off his meds. In real life, such meds take a while to wear off it not taken. But Sonny, still grieving for his lately deceased love Connie, immediately lost it and danced up a storm at Kiki and Morgan’s wedding reception. Further, he blurted out that he had  kept from “cousin”  Michael his knowledge that Morgan knew that Kiki wasn’t a Quartermaine before he married her. A little quick to blame the outburst on the meds. Even so, I loved the crazed  manic gleam in Maurice Benard’s eyes during this party sequence.

– On The Young and the Restless, Dylan, a victim of PTSD, kidnaped baby Connor when he found out that Adam is the biological  father of “his” son with Chelsea.  It was terribly out of character for Dylan to do this, and who knew that the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome could be so overwhelming and drastic? Again, solid acting came to the rescue. Kudos to Steve Burton.

Utility Player

In baseball they call a player who can play several positions well a utility player.  Well, this year’s newest and  most valuable soap utility  player may be William deVry, who now plays Derek Wells/Julian Jerome on GH.  He’s equally adept as a criminal (who this week committed murder), a businessman, a concerned father and grandfather and a romantic love interest for Nancy Grahn‘s Alexis, even though he is a decade younger than she is.  Canadian actor deVry is no stranger, of course. He proved his great value and talent on soaps in the past, playing Bianca’s rapist Michael Cambias on  All My Children and suicide victim Storm Logan on B&B.

Llanview Memories

I’d like to strongly endorse hard-working author Jeff Giles’ “Llanview in the Afternoon:  An Oral History of One Life to Live,” available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book form.   It’s nostalgia heaven for  longtime viewers of the show, like moi, as stars and backstagers tell in their own words the story of the many decades the soap was on ABC.  What I really liked was the story is told not only by its big stars like Erika Slezak (Viki) and Bob Woods (Bo), but also like long-ago favorites like MarilynChris (Wanda) and Julie Montgomery (Samantha.)  Cheers! 

The Young and the Restless’ Big Baby Reveal: Well Worth Waiting For

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

The Young and the Restless may be the best soap when it comes to dragging out its storylines.  Because this week, it was more than worth than nine month wait when it was explosively revealed to Dylan MacAvoy  that Chelsea’s newborn baby Connor isn’t really his, but the child of Chelsea’s ex-husband Adam Newman.  As you know, baby Connor is experiencing signs of retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease Adam himself inherited from his blind mother. 

Steve Burton’s Dylan: The baby he loves so much isn’t really his

In addition to the suspense, what made the storyline high point worth waiting for was the performances.  As Chelsea the lifelong con woman, Melissa Claire Egan always sustains a nice element of hysteria, and that worked well in the revelation scenes.  But it was Steve Burton as Dylan who stole the show with Dylan’s tearful and very sensitive reaction to the news, as his character loves what he believed to be his baby very much.   Dylan had even married Chelsea and made a whole new life with her believing he had fathered Connor.   He even bought Genoa City’s coffee house Crimson Lights to support the family.

As evidenced here, Burton has improved greatly as an actor since the days when he played Jason Quartermaine Morgan on General Hospital.  As Dylan, he has found layers in his character, who has always been a guy almost too good to be true since his introduction last year.  Now Burton has many opportunities to add more shades of gray to Dylan, a hero in the war in Afghanistan. This will be challenging if the spoilers are correct – they say he’ll go against character type by kidnapping baby Connor from his mother.

Of course, Michael Muhney who plays Adam was great as always in the scenes in which Adam  found out that baby Connor is his son.  Now in what will become a continuing storyline situation, he has threatened to take Connor away from the baby’s mother.  Muhney is so terrific at being mean, this is a storyline worth looking forward to.

And what do you think of the spoilers/rumors that Dylan is really the long lost son Nikki gave birth to as a teen and gave away?  The ages here don’t really match up — Steven Burton is too old to be Melody Thomas Scott’s son.  But as Dylan has no relatives as is in Genoa City, this would tie him into the main Newman family, making him Nick and Victoria’s brother and Victor’s stepson.

What didn’t work for me was having Avery, Dylan’s ex,  be late to her own cancelled wedding to Nick so she could listen to Dylan’s anguish at finding out the baby isn’t his.  What real life bride would be late to her own wedding?   As we’ve said in the past, Avery is also too good to be true, and this time she was tripped up by her own good nature.  Will Avery and Dylan wind up getting back together?  Will Avery ever marry Nick?  The baby reveal certainly has launched many good future storylines for Y&R.