Sunday Reflections 5: The Young and the Restless, The Revamp; Reality Shows on Y&R and General Hospital; Gold Medal GH

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

The Young and the Restless:  The hardest job in the soap world is being done right now by new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and headwriter Josh Griffith as they revamp Y&R and are rumored to be paring down its expensive cast.  Marlena has always believed it’s not a critic’s job to tell producers what to do; it’s our job to react to it.  Yet, I can’t resist making some observations on the Y&R they are examining right now.

How the hell are Phelps and Griffith going to get rid of any veterans, when the greatest strength of Y&R is its plethora of actors who have been on for decades? Firing any will be an amputation, with the fans just screaming bloody murder even after just one pink slip. Look at how wrenching it was to lose Eileen Davidson as Ashley, who departed Y&R just last week for Days of Our Lives!  Almost all the older vets have proven their worth by improving the awful stories of Ms. Arena Bell and company though their great acting abilities. Examples: 

Peter Bergman

Michelle Stafford

Peter Bergman’s Jack conquering paralysis and his joke of a marriage to Melody Thomas Scott’s  Nikki; Michelle Stafford in the on-going travails of Phyllis; Doug Davidson, bravura as Paul in the father kills son Ricky story, and on and on. For whom will the bell toll?

Caution: cutting or deemphasizing the vets on Y&R would likely kill the show, as it will cause longtime viewers — its core audience — to flee.  Plus, any of these actors can be maintained or saved by improved writing for their characters.

Doug Davidson

Most likely cuts will come from the shorter-termed vets from other shows, like the Genie Francis (totally miscast as scheming Genevieve) and those who have run out of story, like Stephen Nichols (Tucker).  Please don’t cut Debbi Morgan (Harmony) and Darnell Williams (Sarge)!  Each has more than carried over their momentous acting skills from All My Children to Y&R and I’ll cry if they get the sack.

The most effective move would be to punch up or recast most of the young cast, who range from nothing more than ordinary to dreadful.  I have never been a fan of (recent Emmy winner!) Christel Khalil (Lily) and Daniel Goddard (Cane).  Lily and Cane are insipid and I don’t care to see any more about Cane’s past. The relative newbies such as Blake Hood (who plays the newly adult Kyle) and Jessica Heap (who plays Eden) don’t do much for me.  I have a feeling the show will be bringing in [Read more...]

All My Children: Daytime’s Brigadoon, But What Happens Next? Part 2

AMC logoBy Marlena De Lacroix

In Part 1 of this column, I used that great 1947 Broadway musical in which a mythical ancient town full of joy and real human goodness reappears and vanishes once a decade as a metaphor for the brief return of Lorraine Broderick as headwriter of All My Children.

Ms. Broderick’s self-chosen short-lived return represented a short sojourn back into a soap opera world that now exists only in memory:   What we’ve seen again in the past three months is the real All My Children – the intelligent, warm, character

My kudos go to ALL the actors of the AMC company who again got to showcase their real skills because they were given great writing.

rich soap we loved since Agnes Nixon created it in 1970 and which existed in that glorious form until 1996.  Sadly, Broderick’s new stint as writer has already ended, but she leaves AMC in [Read more...]

Marlena Says: Take Me Home to Pine Valley

All My Children

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 16:  James recalls shopping and dining in old Pine Valley … Kel agrees it’s too soon to judge the new headwriter … Brandon opines even bad Pine Valley circa 1997 beats today’s incarnation …and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

All My Children was always my favorite soap, from its premiere (1970) until the time Meggie McTavish made her disastrous, gimmick-filled  return (1996-97) and later when Ryan and the Fusion girls took over the show. Bimbos! I hated them — Kendall, Greenlee, etc., etc. — girls who were obsessed with make-up and wearing sundresses year-round, who giggled about men and acted like cats while they were pretending to work. 

Intelligent women with real hearts and authentic female wisdom had been what AMC specialized in until then (best example: Brooke). Like so many Thinking Fans, I used to love AMC for its humor, heart and real intelligence (three qualities which actually belong to its creator and longtime headwriter, Agnes Nixon.)  For the last decade, however, I’ve watched the dumbed [Read more...]

I’ll Take Manhattan(ites)

By Marlena De Lacroix

My friend Roger Newcomb, who is the editor of  We Love Soaps, invited Moose and me to attend a Tribeca screening of Manhattanites, the film he co-produced with Lyle Kaminer. We really enjoyed  it, and I think you’ll like it too, especially if you are a soap fan.

Manhattanites tells the story of a group of young people whose busy lives intersect toward the end of the film in a fiery coincidence.   The hub of all this activity is a downtown coffee shop where everyone, sooner or later, seems to end up.

Gretchen (Caroline Hay), an ambitious waitress at the coffee shop, longs to leave her job to become a television news reporter, a dream [Read more...]

All My Children’s Angie and Jesse: Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing!

By Marlena De LacroixDebbi Morgan

All My Children‘s newly revived characters Angie and Jesse are causing me pain.  At the end of every scene they are in, I start to hurt, because I have to watch so many scenes of the rest of the storylines on AMC until I see them in their next scene.  These characters (and actors Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams) are so good and so real and so what soap opera used to be all about — love, romance, authentic human beings experiencing authentic human emotions — that they blot out the rest the show.

Did you see Jesse and Angie’s  actual reunion clinch during the reunion episode?  Specially shot outdoors trackside near a train station, with some very interesting camera angles by guest director Andrew Lee, the sequence was really terrific! 

Jesse A moment full of joy, full of the release of years of buried pain, full of love.  Marlena was blubbering so much, I finally stopped shouting, “It’s modeled after Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton’s famous trackside reunion embrace in the film Reds!”  (It takes a lot of shut Marlena up in the middle of making a movie reference during a soap.)

Since there is little magic these days happening on daytime soaps, you can bet the PTB upstairs are analyzing what has made the Angie and Jesse character return so special.  Is it the actors? Certainly, that’s the huge part of it.  Morgan and Williams, Emmy winners both, have always been extraordinary actors and AMC should thank its very lucky stars that they were available.  Both are seasoned by years of movies, TV movies, series and theater, and their ripe maturity as human beings is [Read more...]

10 Sweet and Soapy Valentine’s Day Questions

By Marlena De LacroixSarah Brown

1.  Is it my imagination or did bravura actress Sarah Brown return to General Hospital (as Claudia Zacchara) with a little something extra under the signature slutty red wrap dress?  And isn’t fierce mob princess Claudia very similar to Maerose Prizzi (Oscar winner Anjelica Huston) the fierce mob princess who wants to take control of her mob family in the 1985 hit movie Prizzi’s Honor?  Is there a mob movie that Bob Guza has  failed to rip off?

2.  Indeed, is there any Hollywood movie that Guza hasn’t ripped off? Last night I watched 1983′s War Games, about a nerdy but lovable teenage computer hacker [Read more...]

All My Children’s Over-hyped Return of Rebecca Budig

By Marlena De LacroixRebecca Budig

A member of our family has been ill, so it’s been hard enough to post.  And so at the end of  tough days,  I turn to where I have always turned since I was a teen for a bit of relief, comfort and a sense of belonging:  to daytime soaps.  Right now — late Saturday afternoon – what’s going on is SoapNet’s  ”Welcome Back Weekend,”  a festival of old episodes of All My Children and a repeating promo special welcoming back the characters of Jesse, Angie and Greenlee, as played again by veterans Darnell Williams, Debbi Morgan and Rebecca Budig.

[Read more...]