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.

Four More Who Make My Day

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

Even when the plots of our soap operas drag or are otherwise unsatisfying, there are always actors who make our day.  I named some of my favorites here a while back. Now, here are some more, all on General Hospital:

Anders Hove: GH’s own bad grandpa (ABC Photo)

Anders Hove plays Faison, a classic villain who has been in and out of Port Charles going back to 1990.   He’s Danish and with his long hair and wrinkles is perhaps the most bedraggled looking character on all of daytime TV.  His visits usually have to do with his obsession with lady love Anna Devane and with his favorite diabolical undertaking, kidnapping.  This time he’s in town after revealing to Anna that her daughter Robin (who his bossy wife Dr. Obrecht abducted a year and a half ago) is still alive.

Hove’s latest visit is so much fun because we’re getting to see the domestic side of the Great Dane.  He’s continually in conflict with Dr. O, his quarrelsome spouse from hell (the outstanding Kathleen Gatti). The two fight like the old married couple that they are. This time he’s also fighting with evil daughter Britt (does the apple fall far from the tree?), who has introduced him to his “grandson” Ben, who is not biologically Britt’s son.  It’s hilarious to see this villain kiss his “baby.”  We hope Faison sticks around, even if at the moment he should still be in jail for impersonating Duke Lavery.

Finola Hughes

Finola Hughes is always a treat since her spy/police chief character Anna Devane  came to town in the 80s.  She is what soap women rarely are: career oriented and mature but still vulnerable and brimming with emotion.   Now she’s obsessed with finding her daughter Robin, who has thought dead for some time but is still alive.

The most interesting recent Hughes moment came with her impersonation of the vile Dr. O, who wore a mask impersonating Anna. She was an actress pretending to be a character pretending to be her character. Tricky stuff, and Hughes made it a jolly tour de force, complete Dr. O’s signature hauteur. Elsewhere, she played herself with equal charm in some marvelous scenes with Hove.

Bryan Craig. We’ve been very rough on Craig who plays Carly and Sonny’s son Morgan.  As Kiki’s husband, he was very weak.  However, since Morgan has hooked up with older woman Ava Jerome (the outstanding Maura West), Craig’s performances have gotten better. Perhaps working with the accomplished West buoyed him. Now he’s a lot more forceful.   Going forward, it should be interesting now that he’s discovered Ava’s brother Derek is really his father’s enemy, mob boss Julian Jerome.

Ilene Kristen. Here’s a big soap surprise. It seems that GH is incorporating the old soap Ryan’s Hope and Kristen’s character Delia Reid Ryan into its own storylines. Sam and Silas will go to the Upper West Side bar to find out if Delia is really the mother of Ava Jerome.  We can hardly wait to see Kristen (formerly Roxy on One Life to Live), who is always kooky and funny,  in her two appearances scheduled for  this week.

General Hospital: When the Veterans Come Marching Home

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

The late Jim Reilly used to say that writing a soap was like baking a cake.  You mix in various ingredients, maybe a little bit more or less of some, bake it, and then, voila,  there’s the show, rich and delicious. The main ingredient mixed into GH this past year has been veterans.  With the 50th anniversary coming up April 1, veterans are becoming more than the flavor of the month — they are almost the entire show.  In addition to all the characters we have “mixed in” already, coming soon are Kin Shriner (Scotty), Rachel Ames (Audrey), possibly John Stamos (Blackie) and the beloved Jackie Zeman (Bobbie.) [Read more...]

Marlena’s Best of the Best, 2012

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

It’s the end of 2012, time for best and worst lists.  Because soaps are in such danger and I’ve already recorded most of the worsts in the weekly column I’m choosing only to do the bests here.  And Marlena being Marlena sometimes I have multiple choices in each category.

Best Actress:  The Bold and the Beautiful’s Susan Flannery. Can there any other?  Her work in the month leading up to Stephanie’s death was just so human and full of intelligence, two full career-long defining traits of arguably daytime’s best ever actress.

Doug Davidson

Best Actor:  Doug Davidson, The Young and the Restless.  Tragedy usually becomes soap performers, but it’s still difficult for some actors to pull off crying scenes believably and effectively.  Y&R‘s Doug Davidson was just grand as the drowning-in-guilt Paul, who shot and killed his own son, when Ricky was about to commit murder.   Davidson was just so realistic as a father in this ultimate pain, especially when he was unjustly arrested for Ricky’s murder.

Best Supporting Actresses:  Too many to choose just one. B&B ’s Katherine Kerry Lang should get the Emmy she deserves this year as Brooke for that character’s loving support of Stephanie on her deathbed … Kelly Sullivan has just been terrifically entertaining and often hilarious as Crazy Connie on General Hospital. (She also plays Connie’s alter, fashion editor Kate.) …  Will’s coming out scenes on Days of Our Lives wouldn’t have been half as effective if not for the understanding and support of his grandmother Marlena. Deidre Hall, as ever, is brilliant as a character who represents the ultimate in womanly love and acceptance … Robin Mattson was just deliciously evil as always when her crazy, cunning Heather returned to GH, bringing with her a swath of misdeeds, including a role in the switch of Tea and Sam’s babies.

Best Supporting ActorGeneral Hospital ‘s Jason Thompson was every bit as good in crying scenes as Y&R’s Davidson, as Patrick so heartbreakingly mourned the death of his wife, Dr. Robin. The exquisite sensitivity the character showed in his grief was totally unexpected.

Best Couple:  Anna and “Duke”/Faison on GH.  In the 80s they were a supercouple — Finola Hughes and Ian Buchanan had amazing chemistry, and their great acting skills beautifully complimented one other.  And they stayed a dazzling duo when both returned this year to GH and played out the twisty and shocking Faison-is-the-fake Duke story.  The actors also did just as great work apart:  Hughes as Robin’s grieving mother on GH and Buchanan as the scheming meanie Ian on Days, who also wildly grieved when his love Madson died in his arms.  Buchanan is this soap year’s prince of melodrama.

Best Show: General Hospital, for making the comeback of the year.  A year ago, the smart money bet this show would be cancelled. But executive producer Frank Valenti and headwriter Ron Carlivati turned the tide splendidly, transforming GH into such a highly entertaining show that fans don’t want to miss even one day!  May GH’s rising ratings portend a new era of success for dayime soaps!

Cher readers, do write in and tell me your personal bests for 2012.

Also, listen to Connie/Marlena chat about soap bests and the biggest soap news events of 2012 with soapcentral.com’s Daniel J. Kroll on http://www.voiceamerica.com/Show/1661.

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...]

Sunday Reflections 3: The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, Days of Our Lives

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

The Young and the Restless: Finally a soap does what I’ve long advocated for this era of desperation:  perform a radical life-saving change to save itself.  Y&R has sent in then Marines in the form of new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and new headwriter Josh Griffith. And Marlena says Semper Fi!  Fresh from their triumphs on Hollywood Heights and Phelps’ latest Emmy for Outstanding Show (General Hospital), these two soap vets certainly have just the skills and genuine talent needed to pull Y&R out of its deep pit of, as we French say, ennui.

And already the fans have started flinging tomatoes at the choice of Phelps, who we all took to task for her cooperation with Guza on GH and other foul acts on One Life to Live.  Forgive and forget, Marlena says, because darlings, this is war!  With 30 plus years of continuous executive producing service to five soaps (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, Another World, One Life to Live, GH) Phelps certainly has the octane needed to quickly change Y&R.  Similar negative things were predicted when the much skilled and experienced Paul Rauch (whose track record  fans did not love) first came to produce Y&R  a few years ago, and look at what an effective job he did. 

Tony Geary

General Hospital: Marlena is still swooning over the GH scene this week in which Luke and Anna were privately reunited in the hospital after Luke’s taking a bullet for Anna and his long abduction by cray-cray Heather. No crying, screaming or carrying on, it was just a conversation between two mature people revealing their deep romantic feelings for each other without words.  The script said that Anna was questioning Luke about his long abduction by Heather, and later telling him that the arrested Heather said Robin was alive. Yet, bravura Tony Geary and Finola Hughes played the scenes’ subtext — two very adult people (yes!) in love — so quietly and with so much subtlety, the scene was a thing of beauty. Luke spoke slowly and clearly, and in a low voice, while Anna listened, receiving his unspoken love with just a touch of a tear in her eye.   What creativity and worlds of experience these two actors bring to their work!  Whoever thought we could see such adult emotion portrayed so realistically on a soap opera?

This was a wonderful couple of days this week, for we who (try to) watch GH without spoilers. The previous day, insane Heather (surprise!) appeared in the doorway of the cabin in which she held Luke, shooting Luke after Anna (yay girl!) had punched her out and [Read more...]

Two Tone GHers

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

What’s with the dip-dye hair on General Hospital?  When I first saw that Finola Hughes’ (heroine  Anna Devane)  usual dark hair was blond in the lowest regions when she first came back to the show, I thought it was unusual as a hairstyle   But I chalked it up to the fact that super-intelligent Finolafinola Hughes really is the coolest of the cool  hip urbanite.  I like it!  Now Robin Mattson’s (vilest villainess Heather Webber) hair has the opposite color scheme:  The lower region of her blonde hair is suddenly brown.

Now I ask you, mes cool amies, is this dip dye hair a widespread trend right now?  I’ve never seen it before and Marlena lives in Manhattan, teaches college students (who start all the fads) and reads women’s magazines at the hairdresser’s.  Is it an LA thing?  Marlena’s trademark red locks wouldn’t look bad with a touch of blonde or brunette at the tips. Which would work better do you think?

Speaking of GH, why oh why am I falling for the man I now call Todd Lite?  I’m being brainwashed!   As I’ve written a million times, I have always hated Todd the rapist and now the unpunished murderer (of his twin, Victor.)   But the [Read more...]

More General Hospital: Outrageously the “M” Word

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

When Moose came home from work yesterday, he thought he’d have to dump a bucket of cold water over my head.  I couldn’t stop yelling, over and over again,”No, they really didn’t do this!”  General Hospital had a scene where Carly and Todd flirted/talked, and Todd was bare-chested. 

But … but … he’s a rapist!

I’m not making a personal comment on Roger Howarth, roger howarthwho is buff enough (great arms). But to feature the man who infamously gang raped Marty Saybrooke on One Life to Live  in 1994 (and “re-raped” her again two years ago when Todd and Marty “made love”) in the semi-nude was just outrageously misogynistic.

Sure, it’s been a tradition on soaps for more than 25 years that boys/men show off their pecs in the summer heat.  And I really think Todd and Carly, who are in the beginning of their “‘courtship,” make a great couple.  Les miserables deserve each other!  But still, do I really have to [Read more...]

10 Merry Mid-Month of May Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix and Patrick Erwin

1.  When you saw John-Paul Lavoisier as Rex in his recent pre-wedding scenes on One Life to Live, wandering around a bar drunk, shirtless, and disheveled with a wild head of hair, didn’t he remind you just a little of Bamm-Bamm from The Flintstones?

2.  Have you been lost in the maze of brunettes on As The World Turns? When we watched Noelle Beck as nuLily, she looked a lot like Marie Wilson (Meg). Who also looks a lot like Julie Pinson (Janet).  Janet also has a [Read more...]