The Bold and the Beautiful Scores a Ratings High

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bold and the Beautiful 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!

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? 

A “Bah Humbug” Christmas … Plus, The Borg is Back!

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

Oh how I miss soap Christmases the way they used to be. Today, all soaps have been scrubbed of religion. This year only two of the four soaps — Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful — continued with at least some of the traditions that made the holiday a really special time to watch daytime drama.  

The Horton Ornaments

On the soaps of old (actually, not even so old), every soap gathered its central families together at a family party.  On cue, a leading cast member broke the fourth wall at the end of the holiday show to wish the cherished viewers: “From our family to your family … Merry Christmas.”  Thus viewers felt particularly bonded with their other “family” — their soap family.Plus, I really missed those Christmas traditions particular to each soap! Remember all those years Dr. Steve Hardy told the Christmas story to all the kids at the hospital on General Hospital? When Mike Bauer sang Christmas carols in the Bauer living room on Guiding Light?  When all the characters of Passions, religious or not, turned out for one of Jim Reilly’s crazy midnight Christmas Eve masses?

Well, it was mostly “Bah Humbug” to Christmas on half of our surviving soaps in 2012 – a most peculiar choice, given the medium’s on-going race to stay in business. Instead of a gathering together en famille on Christmas week The Young and the Restless, Jack’s son Kyle and business associates Phyllis and Neil staged an intervention for pill-popping Jack. Peter Bergman brilliantly fired all rockets in these scenes in which obstinate Jack managed to give in to no one.    On General Hospital on Christmas Eve, surrogate mother Maxie had cramps and found out that she was indeed pregnant with Dante and Lulu’s baby.  Please oh please, tell me this wasn’t supposed to be symbolic of another Christmas pregnancy.

Thankfully, Days and B&B celebrated Christmas the old fashion way. Days offered warm family gathering, and as they do every year, rolled out the Horton family ornaments engraved with character names. B&B assembled the Forresters in a lovely tribute to the recently deceased Stephanie, as Eric (the talented John McCook) beautifully played the piano. And indeed B&B honored the old soap tradition as executive producer Bradley Bell broke the fourth wall to wish the audience a good holiday at the end of the Christmas episode. It made me feel extra good.   Happy holidays right back to everyone at B&B from Marlena!

The Young and the Restless:  On an up note, however, how unexpected is it that mega-popular Steve Burton (formerly Jason on GH) is joining Y&R?  He’ll certainly bring many of his fans with him.  I think the kind of role that’s written for him (as yet undisclosed) should have a lot to do with the actor’s success.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if his new character is on the right side of the law, unlike his unrepentant hitman Jason (nicknamed “The Borg” by the audience) on GH?

Sunday Reflections 21: Two Award-worthy Stories on The Bold and the Beautiful … On General Hospital – Maxie, Forget Being a Surrogate Mother!

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

The Bold and the Beautiful:  While the rest of us were distracted by the fireworks of General Hospital’s highly entertaining, twist-filled November sweeps (A.J. back from the dead! Duke is Faison!), perhaps the finest dramatic work of the month or even the year was going on over at The Bold and the Beautiful. Two storylines — Stephanie’s death and Katie’s postpartum depression — are the kind of meaningful stories that win Emmy awards in both acting and writing.

Stephanie’s tearful good-bye
Susan Flannery ends a magnificent 25-year run

Of course, headwriter Bradley Bell had plenty of advance notice to write and plan the road to Stephanie’s death — actress Susan Flannery had announced she was retiring months before.  But the story he constructed both highlighted Flannery’s legendary talents (honed over 43 years in the business) and saluted the unique emotional strength of daytime’s premiere matriarch.  Stephanie had no fear of death.  Who else would have the courage and composure to plan their own Celebration of Life party? Flannery left the entire B&B company verklempt for real as Stephanie so poignantly said farewell to her guests when she departed for Big Bear, never to see her relatives and friends again. The party episodes were so intense!

But not as intense as Stephanie’s dying scenes, which Bell brilliantly chose to have her share with Brooke, not husband Eric.  The two women are the loves of each other’s lives, n’est ce- pas?   Bell finally chose the death sequence for Brooke to confirm that the two women loved each other as Stephanie gave Brooke her engagement ring and Brooke declared, “I never knew love until there was you.”  It was the fitting conclusion of a twenty- five year cat and mouse game that started with hate and then went to obsession and finally ended with confession of the emotional truth.  I always felt all along that through all the years of mutual conflict and bitchery, Steph and Brooke really loved each other intensely. What do you think?

Katherine Kelly Lang

Katherine Kelly Lang, who is unjustly always short-changed at awards time, did the most sensitive and memorable work of her 25 years on the show throughout November. Brooke’s eyes were constantly rimmed with the sincere tears of grief and love.  Also doing the kind of work that merits an award was Heather Tom (she won Best Actress last year) as new mother Katie, who totally disappeared into the terrifying disease of post-partum depression.   It was so severe she even left her husband and child at home and ran away.

I salute the exploration of this disease on B&B, because it’s hardly ever been done in daytime history.  Perhaps because the disease is so protracted and ugly?   But it is so common and wide-spread!  B&B spared no unpleasant truth [Read more...]

B&B: Does One Show-Eating Storyline Work?

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

Bradley Bell has been trying a bold soap experiment the last three quarters of a year on The Bold and Beautiful, featuring one storyline, the Hope-Liam-Steffy triangle, almost to the exclusion of most others.  And he’s been succeeding — the ratings are still comparatively healthy. So I ask B&B viewers: are you smothered by this storyline?

I’ve always said you can watch this story with the sound turned off, the soap “types” are so obvious. There’s the blond heroine, Hope (Kim Matula); the dark (and sexy) villainess, Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), and the boy, er, I mean man they
both love — LiamScott Clifton(Scott Clifton).  Does anyone ever remember a soap character who has been more of a wuss?  (Write in, darlings.)  It’s too bad, because while  Clifton delivers nicely here, he’s an excellent actor who is capable of so much more.

Of course Liam has to be a wuss to swing back and forth between the two women so easily.  But Bell has also done some nice things with this story — the recent beautiful Italian remote, and Steffy’s  scenes full of hot vibes with Liam’s scheming, villainous father (and future lover?)  Bill Spencer. Jr.  (Don Diamont).  Veteran B&B viewers, do you [Read more...]

The Mega-successful, Classy World of Bill Bell

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

When I was a girl soap reporter, I called him “Mr. Bell” during interviews because of Bill Bell’s exalted status in the soap industry.  And Bill Bell (1927-2005) would just laugh and go ahead to speak about Bill Bellwhat one always talked to him about: the work.  He was the only person I ever interviewed who hardly ever promoted himself personally.  And he was in show business!   Bell, a true gentleman, preferred to have his work speak for itself.

So I’m glad there’s a new biography that both examines Bell’s personal life story and takes a comprehensive look at his always top-rated soaps. The book, published by Sourcebooks, is titled The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell, Creator of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful and written by veteran soap journalist Michael Maloney and Lee Phillip Bell, Bell’s wife, who also co-created both soaps.

Bill Bell had a wonderful life, told in this book with same kind of class that helped make him such a remarkable person in life and in television history.

There was never a day in his 40-plus years in the soaps when Bell’s writing wasn’t excellent and his soaps engrossing and entertainingly and intelligently done.. He, his soaps, his family and his organization were  always all about class — and success.  And on top of all this, he was a genuinely nice man.

Bill Bell really was the prototypical American success story of a man who started humbly and worked his way to the top.  He came from a Midwest middle class family, served stateside during World War II, and [Read more...]

Daytime Emmys 2009: The Beginning of the End?

By Ed Martin 

Watching the 36th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on The CW during the dog days of August confirmed what I already knew: These are dark days indeed for the daypart overall and for soap operas in particular.

It’s not that the telecast was all bad: I actually prefer smaller venues for the Daytime Emmy celebration (the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles for last night’s show, ballrooms at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan during the ceremony’s glory years) and I always enjoy an entertaining opening number at any awards event. (Vanessa Williams‘ reworked-for-daytime rendition of Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You was almost as much fun as Neil Patrick Harris‘ surprise closing song at this year’s Tony Awards.) Best of all, in the soap categories the awards were spread over a number of different shows. Only As the World Turns went totally unrewarded during the telecast. (On Saturday it picked up a couple of Creative Arts Emmys, so no soap went home empty handed.)

In fact, I was pleased with most of the winners in the daytime drama categories, from the tie for Outstanding Supporting Actor between the long overdue Vincent Irizarry of All My Children and the very deserving Jeff Branson of Guiding Light to

The biggest disgrace was the rushed tribute to the soon-to-be-terminated Guiding Light, which has already completed production and will have its last telecast in two weeks … The other big bad of the night was the brush-off to The Bold and the Beautiful at night’s end.

the surprise Outstanding Lead Actress win for Susan Haskell of One Life to Live. (Her portrayal of repeat rape victim Marty Saybrooke in the year’s most controversial soap story was consistently riveting.) Even though it would have been [Read more...]

The Bold and the Beautiful: Brilliant and Baffling

By Patrick Erwin

On paper, The Bold and the Beautiful should be the most solid show on daytime.  The show was created by daytime legend Bill Bell and taken over by his son Bradley when he retired.  In an era in which shows seem to change creative teams with the change of seasons, Bradley Bell has been head writer and producer for well over a decade.

[Read more...]