That Was the Week That Was

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

I can barely remember a daytime soap week that had as much breaking news as this one.  Here’s a peek into Marlena’s reporting notebook:

Ian Buchanan


I am stunned that General Hospital (Frank Valentini, executive producer; Ron Carlivati, headwriter)  has  fired Ian Buchanan (Duke Lavery).  It is just so wrong!  Ian is … Ian!  What a magnificent  actor he is, not to mention that he is a soap icon.  He and the equally magnificent  Finola Hughes (Anna Devane) comprise one of the greatest soap couples of  all time. Their story of conflicted love has always been a total winner.  The role of Duke was briefly played by a badly miscast Greg Beecroft (Guiding Light, One Life to Live) during a  23-year break Ian took from the show when  Duke was believed dead.  I .sincerely  hope they don’t kill Duke off for good this time!  Ian is so valuable to GH  and so  beloved by the fans.


Today I learned  the news that Wally Kurth, who has done double duty recurring on both  General Hospital as Ned Ashton and  Days of Our Lives as Justin Kiriakis, has been given a contract on Days. (Justin left Salem again just a month ago.)  I love Wally the Great and  will miss him terribly on GH.  Days is very smart to snap up Kurth.

More Tuesday

It’s Daytime Emmy time again. Oy!  The nominees were announced today.  The awards  will be presented April 26th on POP. That it’s back on TV after last year’s online  debacle  is great!

The nominations were announced  on CBS’ The Talk (I’m a View girl myself ).   They devoted only the first twenty minutes of the show to rattling off the noms, and it was done  in the studio.  Couldn’t they at least have done a remote to the announcement ceremonies themselves?  Remember the days when all three major networks covered the announcement ceremony live?  Doesn’t  daytime  deserve  better?

As you know, Emmy judgment isn’t based on an actor’s overall work, but rather on a reel of scenes from the last year that each actor and show  submit to a panel of judges at ATAS, the organization that administers the Daytime Emmys.  Great care goes into selecting these scenes; they are chosen by the actors themselves, and naturally they  are the best  scenes of the year.

So far I have only seen one reel for Best Actress and it left me totally  exasperated.  It’s well known that the Emmy  judges usually select  a winner  who cries and carries on in the scenes on their reel.  On the reel I saw, the actress certainly did cry and carry on from start to finish.  We all  know hysterics aren’t  all there is to soap acting, and not always soap acting at its best. The great weeping and gnashing of teeth scenes alone are not representative of the varied and truly excellent  work we see on our  screen five days a week.

Much more on the nominations themselves  and the Daytime Emmys in this column as Emmy day approaches.

Tony Geary in Luke’s moment of truth (Photo from MichaelFairmanSoaps)


I cried and screamed  and carried on  myself today during GH’s gala  52nd anniversary show. Incroyable!   What a shocker or should I say a roller coaster ride of shocks this episode was.  During today’s episode, it was revealed that as a teenager, Luke  murdered both his mother and super abusive  father. The story was told in Luke’s flashbacks and through sister Pat’s (Dee Wallace) narration.  The flashbacks were wonderfully rendered in silvery black and white  (the way TV was back then). The day the murders happened in Port Charles coincides with the date of  the GH’s premiere, April 1, 1963.  The details in the early Spencer story were accurate to 1963 in the most minute ways — sets, costumes, hairdos, even the attitudes of men toward women.

In a sublime touch, all the main characters were played by current GH current cast members amongst those  Jason Thompson (Patrick) as Dr. Steve Hardy, originally played by John Beradino, and Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) as Nurse Jessie Brewer, the role played by Emily McLaughlin.  What wonderful performances all gave!  I hardly recognized Laura Wright (Carly) as Luke, Bobbie and Pat’s mother Lena. She was just amazing in this episode.

Speaking of amazing, there is only one word for our medium right now, and that is “Tony,” as in Tony Geary.  He was genius in this episode, but when isn’t he?

Two Tony scenes that stand out this week literally broke my heart.  The first one was set in the hospital room of Luke’s long lost sister Patricia. Luke  hadn’t seen her in decades.  In this scene he saw her for the first time.  The look on Luke’s face at that moment was such a mix of wonder, incredulity and love!  Geary embodies natural acting.

In the second, Fluke was holding Luke’s wife Tracy (the always brilliant Jane Elliot) his daughter  Lulu (Emme Rylan) and sister Patricia hostage in Pat’s hospital room, pointing  a gun at the three.  To save their lives Tracy slowly talked  Fluke  down, reminding  him how  much he loves  his family.  The strategy worked:    Fluke  turned back into Luke in mid conversation.  What a relief when he dropped the gun!   How harrowing Geary made Luke here!  From menace to angel in a few seconds!

As illustrated in this scene, Geary and Elliot continue to be the best acting duo on daytime television today after so many years on the show together.

Many fans are saying this is the best soap episode they’ve ever seen.  I think it it’s one of many in our long and distinguished daytime drama history.   What do you think? The comments section below awaits.

General Hospital at 50: They’ve Only Just Begun …

Marlena says:  It’s a special time at General Hospital.  The 50th anniversary is coming up April 1 and it’s been just about a year since headwriter Ron Carlivati and executive producer executive producer Frank Valentini took over a dying show and made it must-watch TV.  Marlena’s dear friend and veteran journalist Ed Martin, who first started watching GH in the glory days of the early 80s, expresses the feelings of many avid fans at the current state of the show in this column, reprinted from his regular gig at TV Worth Watching. Ed’s been a guest columnist here many times, and I’m so happy to share his latest GH thoughts with you.

By Ed Martin

April will mark the 50th anniversary of ABC’s General Hospital. I’ll be marking my 35th anniversary as a steady GH viewer just a couple of months after that. One year ago, I was almost certain that neither anniversary would come to pass, what with the show in a death spiral after more than ten years of dreadful mob-based stories that had gutted virtually everything [Read more…]

Moose Says: General Hospital Can Snare … the Soon-to-be-Prized Old Guy Demographic?

Marlena says: Soap fans everywhere are cautiously optimistic that, against all odds, there’s been a hopeful turn in the heretofore bleak fortunes of soap opera. Ratings are strong and even improving for the four network soaps that survived the death watch of the past few years, and Prospect Park is said to be moving full steam ahead to bring two of the casualties back from the dead.

Is it too soon to rejoice? Skeptic that I am, I’m not ready to shoot off fireworks at my country retreat just yet. But I’ve has detected one tiny, tiny bit of anecdotal evidence that audience-building may, indeed, be possible: My recently retired husband Moose, long impervious to the many charms of soap opera that have inundated him daily for so many years, has been espied of late … actually watching General Hospital.

At the risk of frightening him away, I asked him to share with Thinking Fans, whose analytical powers are legendary, after all, what it is about GH that has finally captured his attention. He agreed. Listen and learn, GH producers. Or, at least, have a chuckle or two.

By Moose Goodfellow a.k.a. Old Ed, husband of Connie

I have joined the ranks of the Instantly Irrelevant, filling those weeks between Social Security direct deposits with such typical Old Guy activities as having morning coffee with Al Roker on the Weather Channel, getting haircuts, hauling [Read more…]

Sunday Reflections 14: General Hospital’s Non-Stop Storyline Excitement … Bold and Beautiful — Sobbing for the Forthcoming Death of Stephanie

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

General Hospital:  “No one ever dies in this town,” exclaimed Luke and Tracy together as they talked about the wounded and missing Joe Scully Jr. on Friday’s episode. Don’t you just adore when soaps make fun of themselves?  Because back from the dead has certainly been endemic lately on GH. Last week, one of the most thrilling back from the dead story scene reveals I have ever seen  was when  Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan) presented himself to disbelieving wife Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) as being alive after a 23-year absence.

Anna (Finola Hughes) and Duke (Ian Buchanan)
Still electric after all these years

His declarations of continuing love for her (complete with flashbacks) were  the most romantic and intense scenes of the soap year so far.  You know (see Soap Reflections 6) that I am just a marshmallow for the ever handsome, divinely British accented Buchanan. And Hughes should win an Emmy for her portrayal of silent disbelief slowly turning to a burgeoning sense of joy the character felt reuniting with her long lost husband. Didn’t you just love the welling of tears in Anna’s eyes, the moment she realized he really was Duke and the two a rushed into each other’s arms in a reunion embrace?  That’s good writing, electric chemistry (still strong after 23 long years) and great acting!

Robin Mattson as Heather
Crazed evil supreme

Again, as in the last week, the writers of GH proved how expert they are at weaving great storylines together in single episodes. The week also featured Jason finally telling Sam that her baby son was alive and concluded when the two found kidnapper Heather clutching their baby son in her arms on the hospital rooftop. Spine-tingling!  No one plays “crazy pants” better than veteran actress Robin Mattson.  Too bad the previews of Monday’s episode gave away that Heather does jump off the roof (sans baby, I’m guessing).  Why should a show usually so careful about disclosing its storyline secrets permit such a big boo-boo?   Marlena just loves suspense that is unspoiled.

So GH has really been great hot soap opera these last two months, hasn’t it?   From the September day the show changed time slots, headwriter Ron Carlivati has been expertly writing [Read more…]

General Hospital: No Spoiler … What a Great Surprise!

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

When I think about Old Man Soap Opera, I think of someone teetering on a cane off to the inevitable.  So who thought today he’d pull one of his oldest tricks out of his pocket: the element of surprise!

Did you see today’s General Hospital?  We all knew (from a cliffhanger on Friday’s episode and via Frank Valentini’s tweet) that something big was being revealed today. But (and listen up, other producers) he did not spoil it.

Ian Buchanan
As Duke Lavery (gasp!) in the sanitarium

So when it was revealed almost at the end of the episode that it was Duke Lavery who was lurking at the sanitarium … wowee!  I actually screamed!  And clapped! Finally, a soap keeping a plot twist secret! Before the advent of spoilers, which reared their ugly heads in the late 70s, wanting to know what is going to happen next is why soap viewers tuned in to soaps, and why they kept tuning in.  And spoilers have been one of the main culprits that have ruined the crucial soap element of suspense. And in so doing, almost killed off daytime drama as a medium, too.

So congratulations to Mr. Valentini for somehow sealing the leaks that let the secrets filter up to the magazines and the Internet.   And Mr. Carlivati and company did a masterful job on the writing of the episode, during which the citizens of Port Charles also found out [Read more…]