General Hospital: Spencer Becomes a Burn Victim

Nicolas Bechtel

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

Who could have imagined there’d be an ongoing end of sweeps storyline that is so shocking it could practically upstage the mighty and controversial six month old Luke/Fluke story on General Hospital?

But here it is: ten-year-old Spencer (Nicolas Bechtel) was severely burned on face and body this week in a fire that broke out in the living room of  Wyndemere. Thankfully, he was rescued by Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) and Patrick (Jason Thompson), but when last seen at the end of the week was in Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston.

Shriners is a real place, of course – one of a network of 22 world renowned nonprofit hospitals that specialize in treating children with burns, orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.   Initially, Spencer was taken to General Hospital, then transferred to Shriners for the advanced care he could receive there.

Shriners is partnering with ABC and GH in this storyline set in a real hospital, dramatizing the invaluable work it does for victims and their families. Thousands of children have been treated in burn units like the one Spencer currently occupies, and thousands of parents like Nikolas have been at their bedsides throughout.

I am of two minds about the entire fire story.

First of all, I am very disturbed by it.  Whatever happened to the old soap rule that you don’t do stories in which children are harmed or killed? (The rule has been broken several times in the past.) It is felt that mothers especially can’t bear to watch children being harmed.   GH must be desperate to do such a story, and that doesn’t work for such a classy show. The last time I was so disturbed by an endangered child story was in 2008 when twelve-year-old Michael Quartermaine (then Dylan Cash, now Chad Duell) bought a gun to imitate his mob boss father Sonny.

But this storyline does provide a service for the viewers that is admirable.  The storyline is great for the prestigious Shriners, which has never advertised on daytime before. And it’s even greater for GH.  This storyline, which is sprinkled with commercials for Shriners, is a public service,  and a feather in the cap  all those at the network, and especially executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati.

The fire started after Spencer’s birthday party when Cameron (Michael Leone) accidentally knocked a swag bag onto a candle as he was leaving. Emma (Brooklyn Rae Silzer) and Spencer were alone dancing and unrealistically didn’t hear the alarm or smell smoke.  Emma escaped unharmed and ran for help to her father who was elsewhere in the mansion with Nikolas. Spencer went back into the fire to get his personalized boxing robe, a gift from Sonny he had received at the party.  Part of the roof caved in and Spencer was trapped.  He suffered the burns when the fire escalated. Nikolas and Patrick found him in the nick of time and rushed him to General Hospital.

At General Hospital something very unusual happened.  Absurd chief of staff, ex-criminal Dr. Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) — the chief of staff  of General Hospital always was and should be always a good guy — was given the honor of revealing Shriners participation.  As you know, Obrecht is always the personification of evil — until now.  I was shocked.

This storyline was designed as well to capitalize on the talent of the Bechtel, a child actor I have praised in the past.  This charmed child can do anything, comedy or drama.  Of course, the story wouldn’t work without Christopher.  He is always so natural.  I love their father and son scenes together, especially in this storyline. They are so powerful. Near the end of the week there was a scene in which Nicolas assured Spencer that the Shriners doctor would help him recover. I cried!

So this week, I will continue to watch the Spencer is burned story with tissue in hand.  As intended!

For more information about Shriners Hospitals for Children and how to make donations, click here.

Heavenly November Sweeps Performances on The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital

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

It’s been quite an eventful November sweeps so far.  Stories built over the course of a year or more usually reach their apexes if not their conclusions  over sweeps months (February, May, November) and writers plot their most dramatic action to stretch over these months.   This November’s star plots on The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital varied in quality but mostly  offered actors who pulled out all the stops and gave their best, sometimes Emmy-worthy performances during the month. Let’s partake of the feast:

The Young and the Restless — This was finally the month that Sharon’s long held secret – that she had switched the DNA results and Summer was really Nick’s biological daughter, not Jack’s as all had believed for the last year — was disclosed.  It was Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) who forced Sharon (Sharon Case) to disclose her lie on the very staircase where Phyllis had taken a fall, resulting in a coma that lasted a year. Tognoni (once Kelly on One Life to Live) was particularly forceful here, full of rage and tears, all aimed at Sharon.  Also giving a fine and very affecting  performance was Peter Bergman, whose Jack tearfully and shockingly found out that Summer wasn’t his natural daughter after all.

The Bold and the Beautiful — This is the month Eric picked his successor as CEO of Forrester Fashions.  His first choice was his son Ridge — until model Maya disclosed at a board meeting that Ridge had been kissing his sister-in-law and design collaborator, Caroline, who is Rick’s wife on the sly.  Jacob Young gave a particularly sympathetic and believable performance full of great depth as the betrayed Rick, as did Linsey Godfrey as the shattered Caroline.  Thorsten Kaye showed what a bastard normally good guy sly Ridge could be by brushing off responsibility for his amorous action.  Rick was finally chosen CEO.

General Hospital GH took us through several weeks when secrets were disclosed all over the place.   Roger Howarth was just delicious as Franco exposed his bride Carly mid-wedding ceremony as a cheat and a liar.  Carly had covered up the fact that Sonny killed his adopted son’s natural father A.J.  Laura Wright was extremely harrowing as the betrayed Carly, as was the even more betrayed and shocked Michael.  Chad Duell has been giving the performance of his GH career in this plot denouement   Also very good has been the always dependable  Robin Mattson, whose escaped criminal mental patient  Heather got mixed up in the almost wedding and held several characters including  Jordan and Sean hostage.  But best of all was long time acting couple Finola Hughes and Ian Buchanan, as police chief Anna had to arrest her lover Duke for covering up Sonny’s presence at A.J.’s murder.  These two actors always shine together, but were particularly effective and heavenly here.

And November sweeps isn’t even half over yet.

Daytime Emmy Nominations – Marlena Still Cares

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

The Daytime Emmy nominations for 2014 have been announced. Do you care?  After all these years, Marlena still does. So let’s discuss:

Best Actor:  Aside from Jason Thompson (Patrick, General Hospital) the other four nominees all come from The Young and the Restless:  Peter Bergman (Jack), Doug Davidson (Paul), Christian LeBlanc (Michael) and Billy Miller (ex-Billy.)  Miller, who performed with great strength in the storyline in which Billy’s daughter Delia was run over by a car, should be the winner.  Oddly enough, Michael Muhney, who so masterfully played guilt-filled Adam, who ran over Delia, was not even nominated.  (Muhney has since left the show.)

Best Actress:  Eileen Davidson (Kristen, Days of Our Lives) by all accounts had a particularly good year, and she is the favorite in this category.   Also nominated from Days was Arianne Zucker (Nicole).  Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke, The Bold and the Beautiful), who had her big scenes the year before when Stephanie died, was also nominated.  But never underestimate Heather Tom, whose teary Katie on B&B had a stellar year as her character survived her husband Bill’s infidelity with Brooke.  Tom has won the statuette five times before.

Best Supporting Actress:   Y&R’s Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe) and Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea) had great years as Chloe’s daughter Delia was killed by a drunk driver.  Also nominated from Y&R  as the so-so Amelia Heinle (Victoria).  Kelly Sullivan, whose Connie was murdered on GH also had a very emotional  year.  But the best of this worthy slate is Jane Elliot (Tracy, GH ), who  virtually steals the show in every scene she’s in, and should be the big winner here.

Best Supporting Actor:  Nominees in this category include Steve Burton (Dylan, Y&R), Scott Clifton (Liam, B&B), Dominic Zamprogna (Dante, GH) and Eric Martsolf (Brady, Days). But Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, GH), who had tear-filled scenes as baby Connie’s biological daddy before departing for Portlandia, deserves the win in this category.

Best Younger Actress:  This category is a toss-up.  Nominated are Kristen Alderson (Kiki, GH), Linsey Godfrey (Caroline, B&B), Hunter King (Summer,Y&R), Kim Matula (Hope, B&B) and Kelley Missal (Danielle, One Life to Live).  Each is eminently watchable and has much to recommend her.

Best Young Actor: Another category where there is no clear winner among the deserving nominees.  Nominated are Bryan Craig (Morgan, GH), Chad Duell (Michael, GH), Max Ehrich (Fenmore, Y&R), Chandler Massey (ex-Will, Days) and Daniel Polo (Jamie, Y&R).

Best Show:  Incredibly, GH, which had a relatively good year, was not even nominated.  On the list are the cancelled One Life to Live; Days (which won the Emmy last year) and Y&R. But clearly the winner, à mon avis, should be the excellent B&B, which had a year with virtually no bad storylines.

The Daytime Emmys will be awarded on June 22nd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  So far, no network has signed up to televise them, which is quite a statement on the state of daytime. They have been televised since 1974—but apparently won’t be this year as of yet.

Sunday Reflections 17: Hurricane Sandy Made for Spotty Soaps … General Hospital, Don’t Jump the Shark

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

What a week!  At the height of Hurricane Sandy, the lights went out in our Manhattan apartent and stayed that way for five days.  Pas d’eau! Pas de toilettes! Quelle horreur! Thank goodness that on Day Two, Moose, Nigel and I fled to our country hide-away and by Day Three the lights (and warmth!) finally reappeared there. We hope other Thinking Fans in the New York-New Jersey area also found sanctuary and comfort. And our hearts go out to the thousands who are still suffering, and particularly to those who lost loved ones.

General Hospital: As if losing light, food, water, warmth and toilets wasn’t bad enough. Minutes after the power went out, I exclaimed to Moose, “But how am I going to see A.J. now?” This typically Marlena-esque alarm left Moose at a loss for words. Nigel, sensing a crisis, looked worried. With any luck, power would be delivered to the country home’s cable system in time!

On the Friday tag of the show just before the blackout, the supposedly dead Quartermaine brother had made his first (re)appearance in mother Monica’s living room.  So exciting!  I really wanted to see what Sean Kanan, who played A.J. from 1993-1997, would do with the role now.

As it turned out we didn’t make it in time. But a very dear Thinking Fan tipped me off to the next three episodes of GH on YouTube.  Kanan turns out to be a major, major (re)addition to GH, with great leading man prospects.  I thought his performances were very striking, warm and realistic.   Once a major screw-up (as we were reminded by many people on the canvas who had formerly known him), A.J. has grown. Now the light of a father’s true love truly shown through during his Halloween confrontation with his son Michael.  The re-introductory sequences gave Chad Duell and that wonderful old pro Leslie Charleson (Monica) a real chance to shine.  I can’t wait to see Carly have the freak-out of her lifetime on Monday.

A word to the GH writers, though: please don’t jump the shark.  That’s what All My Children did in its final months, when the creative team brought too many characters back from [Read more…]