Character Actors Add Much Needed Character To Soaps

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

Bergen Williams as truth-telling Alice Gunderson on General Hospital

Soap stories, most of which are about romance and love triangles, do tend to get repetitive.  Adding variety and spice to this formula are character roles, which do a lot to make soaps more interesting.  These characters often provide comic relief and serve as “talk tos” for the main characters.

Colorful and amusing character parts have enriched soaps since the beginning.

On Another World in the 70s, Anne Meacham as Iris’s assistant Louise Goddard always drew laughs when she talked to plants about  the show’s tangled plots, “confiding” in the greenery in a deep, soothing voice. In the 80s, Brent Collins on AW  was memorable as Felicia Gallant’s wise-cracking sidekick.  (A versatile actor, he also played the evil, unfunny Mr. Big on As the World Turns.)  At the same time on Days of Our Lives,  Arleen Sorkin and  John DeLancie served as comic foils to leads Marlena and Roman – Arleen as the ditzy blond  Calliope and John as the stuffed shirt Eugene.  Meanwhile, on All My Children, the country-fried Opal (Dorothy Lyman, Jill  Larson) was the talk-to for Erica, and was so popular she became a main character.

Now more than ever, today’s meager menu of four soaps needs to be made tastier by the addition of the adroit services of stellar character actors:

All the goings-on at The Bold and the Beautiful’s Forrester Creations are comically commented on by Pam (Ally Mills) and her boyfriend Charlie (Dick Christie), turning the office staff into an irreverent Greek chorus. Often they “get” what’s happening before the main characters do. Pam, you may recall, was first to catch on to how crazy Quinn is.

A fine example of comic acting was on display just this month as Ilene Kristen guested on General Hospital as her old  Ryan’s Hope character Delia Reid Ryan, her patented kookiness undiminished by the passing years,  Delia, in a real stroke of writing brilliance, was revealed to be the mother of  Ava (Maura West).  Like mother like daughter — both are conniving  and mocking. This time Delia came to stay with pregnant Ava and her baby daddy Sonny and wound up busting into Sonny’s safe before she was escorted out of town by Sean.

Another comic character that is much beloved by the GH audience is Alice Gunderson (Bergen Williams), the truth-telling wrestler and former Quartermaine maid who is now a real thorn in the side of Tracy.  Alice is on to the fact that Tracy is trying to secretly take over ELQ, the family business.  Recently Alice proved she really does have a heart by having a heart attack, and now needs a heart transplant to save her life.

Speaking of thorns, a shining example of tour de force character acting is now being offered by Ray Wise, whose seductive con man Ian Ward is now a thorn in the sides of many Genoa City residents on The Young and the Restless.   Right now, he’s suing Nikki for emotional disturbance (!) because she lied and told him he was Dylan’s biological father. In this storyline, Wise has been particularly well paired with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) and Eric Braeden, who plays Nikki’s exasperated and combative  husband Victor.

 These are some of my faves. Who are yours?

Daytime’s Most Famous “Love to Hate” Characters

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

Eric Braeden as Victor Newman: Still Machiavellian after all these years

For any soap opera, a “love to hate” character is money in the bank.  Fascinated by their endless power to manipulate other characters and instigate interesting plots, these diabolical characters are adored by audiences who avidly follow all that they do. 

“Love to hate” characters dot soap opera history and frequently have long lives.  One of the first “love to hate” females was Lisa on As the World Turns, played by Eileen Fulton. Lisa drove her husband Bob and other ATWT characters crazy for decades.  On Another World, the original Rachel, played by Robin Strasser, was a “love to hate” character who evolved into a heroine, subsequently played by Victoria Wyndham. Stasser went on to play another and more famous “love to hate” character, Dorian Lord, on One Life to Live for decades.  Another iconic “love to hate” character, All My Children’s Erica Kane, made famous by Susan Lucci, quickly became the heroine of her show and was beloved for four decades as she stirred up trouble for generations of characters in Pine Valley.

“Love to hate” characters are usually played by women, but there have been some notable exceptions.  On AMC, James Mitchell’s Palmer Cortlandt caused trouble for his daughter Nina for years.   On TheYoung and the Restless, Eric Braeden’s conniving Victor Newman has been the catalyst of many twisted plots for 30 years. And he’s still going strong,mastermindinglots of problems for his children Adam, Nick and Victoria, and causing his wife Nikki to leave him over and over again. (They recently reconciled after Nikki forgave him for hiring a Cassie lookalike to frighten Sharon. But does anyone believe Victor is properly repentant and will change his Machiavellian ways? )

Right now, there are two “love to hate” characters on soaps who are relatively new and fascinating:

Spunky Quinn Fuller (Rena Sofer) came to The Bold and the Beautiful’s Forrester Creations as a jewelry designer along with her illegitimate son Wyatt.  Since arriving Quinn will do anything to help Wyatt win over the love of Hope Logan, including threatening and torturing Wyatt’s brother Liam, who is also in love with Hope.  This week Quinn even threatened to kill both Wyatt and Hope.  Quinn is so delicious as a “love to hate” character, she’s sure to be with us for a long time.

And on General Hospital, Nina Clay, as played  by Michelle Stafford (who originated and played another “love to hate” character Phyllis Summers Newman on The Young and Restless) has turned out to be a real terror since she came to Port Charles to bust up the romance of her husband Silas and Sam Morgan.  She has even resorted to faking paralysis to get her husband to feel sorry for her and stay with her. In interviews, Stafford has stated that Nina is a sociopath – great news for connoisseurs of “love to hate” characters.   She certainly has a long future ahead as a troublemaker on GH.

So, do you have a favorite baddie, past or present? Please share.

The Young and the Restless and General Hospital: Unanswered Questions

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

Doug Davidson: His Paul Williams isn’t likely to expire

Soaps are often very logical, with storyline happenings and conclusions ironed out well in advance. Even so, for many veteran soap watchers it’s hard not to second guess the logic of soap writers.

For example, we can see exactly why The Young and the Restless recently decided to make Paul Williams (Doug Davidson) the biological father to Dylan McAvoy (Steve Burton).  Both are heroic characters and Davidson and Burton are unquestioned stars of the show. But did they have to do it in a storyline that engendered absolutely no suspense?

Specifically, Paul was shot and lingered near death for many weeks.  Dylan, suddenly informed he was not Ian Ward’s son but Dylan’s, decided to give Paul part of his liver in a transplant operation, even though it meant endangering his own life because of old war injuries. Would Paul and/ or Dylan die? Really, this is supposed to be a mystery. Viewers know that  Davidson has been on the show for 35 years, and Burton has been its big deal star since coming over from General Hospital last year.  Come on, nobody in this storyline  is going to die!

So far, however, the acting alone has carried the storyline. Davidson, whose character is the chief of police, is usually used just for background, but here he’s getting a real chance to shine. He really delivered when Paul woke up from surgery and hallucinated that son Dylan was really his dead son Ricky who Paul shot two years ago.  Davidson won a Daytime Emmy for Best Actor for that storyline.  As I write this, Dylan has just passed out in the hospital after his operation and his life is very much in danger.  But is he going to die?  I don’t think so.

General Hospital offers another unanswered question concerning plot logic:   One of the nice things about soaps is that men and women can develop a platonic relationship like the one shared by Sam Morgan (Kelly Monaco) and Patrick Drake (Jason Thompson).  He recently consoled her when Silas left Sam alone in the park during a date so he could tend to his wife Nina, who had faked having an accident.   Sam is also investigating a different car accident in which someone (probably Rafe) ran Patrick and Sabrina off the road, forcing the premature birth (and subsequent death) of their baby Gabriel.

All of this begs the question: if Patrick and Sam are such good friends, why hasn’t Patrick told Sam that her husband Jason is alive?  Patrick’s wife Dr. Robin left him so she could find a solution to bringing Jason out of some kind of vegetative state.  It’s a puzzle to logical viewers why Patrick still  hasn’t disclosed the big storyline secret that Jason is still alive to his wife.  What gives?

Should Children and Babies Be Killed off on Soap Operas?

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

Jason Thompson and Teresa Castillo as grieving parents

Back in the day … way back, actually … it was unheard of to kill off children, especially babies, on soaps. The traditional audience was, after all, stay at home moms who watched or listened to their soaps while rolling out pie crust or ironing the family laundry.

Today, the taboo has long since been abandoned, though such storylines are still distasteful to many viewers. Thus the dilemma lingers. Though this high stakes plotting has engendered much good drama, some of it award-winning, it’s done at the cost of making at least part of the audience queasy.     

This rule was first broken in the early 60s, when As the World Turns killed off Chucky, Lisa’s son, in a car accident. Others followed. In the late 80s, Laura, Brooke’s daughter, was similarly killed in a very affecting storyline All My Children. Just this year, young Delia also was killed in a car accident on The Young and the Restless, bringing about many nominations for the show in next week’s Daytime Emmys.

The controversy sharpened this month when General Hospital chose for a premature baby, Patrick and Sabrina’s son Gabriel Drake Santiago, to die at the age of barely six months.  The baby was born prematurely after Sabrina and Patrick were run off the road by a bad driver, who this week was revealed to be young Rafe. Sam, a private investigator, is currently investigating to find out who caused the accident.

The storyline has been given lots of time by GH.  Sabrina and Patrick were seen tending to their baby in the ICU for over a month.  The baby’s death led to many dramatic moments, such as when grieving mother Sabrina developed temporary amnesia, not even remembering the death of the baby, and planning her “wedding” to Patrick  (which had taken place seven months prior) the day of the funeral.   The baby’s real funeral is scheduled to take place this week.

Storylines like these, controversial or not, certainly bring out the best in the actors involved.  Jason Thompson, who is always excellent as Patrick, was so good he frequently upstaged Teresa Castillo as Sabrina – quite a feat since she, too, was in top form.  Also excellent in this storyline has been Marc Samuel who plays Teresa’s best friend and moral support Felix.

Yes, yes, I know times have changed. Graphic violence, grisly death and raw treatment of life’s calamities in general, once confined largely to pulp fiction and film noir, now are standard fare on television drama. I get it. Even so, when children are involved … count me among the queasy.

So what do you think?  Is it okay to kill off babies and children on soap operas, or are these storylines just too hard to take?  Drop me a line.

Daytime Emmy Hostess Announced

The hostess of next week’s Daytime Emmys will be Kathy Griffin.  She’s fast and funny should certainly keep the proceedings moving and most entertaining. Indeed, Ms. Griffin is such a draw, she may help the ceremony recoup a good portion of the audience it is certain to lose by moving from television to internet broadcast. I’ll be watching on www.daytimeemmys.org next Saturday, June 21 at 8PM EST. 

This Week in Soaps: A Terrible Tragedy and a Stunning Debut

Katherine Kelly Lang and Don Diamont on location in Dubai

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

The Bold and the Beautiful just finished two weeks of exciting drama centered around the soap’s on-location trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for Brooke and Bill’s aborted wedding.  The sequences featured great scenery and exciting action footage.

As you know, Bill planned a memorable elopement for himself and Brooke to the Middle East.  Unfortunately, Quinn sent a photo of herself and Bill in bed to Ridge, and Ridge immediately  jumped on a plane to the glitzy emirates to stop the wedding.

The wedding ceremony held on the beach, and was as beautiful as could be in this stunning setting.  But Ridge arrived, halted the ceremony and absconded with the bride, dragging her off to a waiting helicopter.  Then Ridge, shocked to observe that the helicopter was being piloted by one of Bill’s men, Justin, actually fell out of the flying chopper! It was a spectacular fall and as of now it’s unclear whether Ridge survived.

It’s also unclear whether or not Thorsten Kaye did his own stunt work in this sequence. (As a longtime fan of Thorsten’s, I’d like to think so.)

In any event, Kaye’s new Ridge is too strong a character for the show to lose, though chances are Kaye just won’t be seen on screen for a few weeks.  This is a shame since his performances have become one of the great highlights of B&B over the last few months.  We have a feeling he’ll be back.

A Promising Debut on General Hospital

Also spectacular this week was the debut of Michelle Stafford on General Hospital as Nina Clay, Silas’ wife, who had been in a coma for twenty years.  She showed up all full of sweetness and clinginess at little Danny’s birthday party. Only the day before, Silas and Sam had declared their love for each other.   Stafford of course  played the show-stopping role of Phyllis Summers Newman  on The Young and the Restless for fourteen years.   Her strong performances in her first GH scenes show great promise for a Nina-Silas-Sam triangle, which should make quite a strong story for a long time to come.

Daytime Emmy Broadcast

The Daytime Emmys, which for the first time in decades will not be shown on television, will be streamed live at www.daytimeemmys.net on June 22nd at 8PM EST. This should be an interesting show and we’ll be watching!

General Hospital: Plots Progress at the 2014 Nurses Ball

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

The 2014 Nurses Ball on General Hospital, marking the twentieth anniversary of the celebrated soap opera event, is now in the history books.  It did not disappoint. There was the usual male strip tease, and young people singing and dancing to pop tunes. But what really worked was the way the performances furthered the soap’s various plotlines.

A true showstopper came when Luke (Tony Geary), now secretly a criminal drug runner sang “I Am What I Am” from the Broadway show La Cage Aux Folles. He called his fiancé Tracy (Geary’s long-standing partner in melodrama Jane Ellliot)  to the stage and proceeded to marry her on the spot. The joy of the nuptials failed to move Tracy’s son Ned, who immediately removed his mother from her post as chairman of the board of ELQ, all the better to prevent Luke from using the company in his nefarious activities.

Also showstopping were the pair of numbers performed by Dr. Leisel Obrecht (Kathleen Gati), the despised Dr. O, Displaying a tuneful if still somewhat sinister side of her personality, she welcomed the audience in top hat and tails singing “Wilkommen” from Broadway’s Cabaret. She followed it , and then sang a most soulful rendering of the Willy Nelson hit, “You Were Always On My Mind,” to her alienated daughter Britt and her newly revealed son Nathan. Evidently the song had its desired effect, because the three were seen leaving the ball together.

Another plot reached its apex when a lingerie clad Lucy was revealed to be kissing Scotty when a curtain accidentally opened.   After a five month affair, this was the first time Lucy’s husband Kevin (Jon Lindstrom) saw that his wife was being unfaithful to him.  Lindstrom, a very strong actor, drove the subsequent highly emotional breakup scene with Lynn Herring’s Lucy. Will the hurt husband forgive his regretful and sobbing wife? These two pros make us want to tune in to find out.

Other plots progressed, too. Brad (Parry Shen), who had been having a romance with Lucas but lost him to Felix, sang “Brokenhearted” to Lucas and attempted to kiss him.  Lucas brushed off his kiss and went back to Felix.  For daytime, this is a rare gay love triangle. Sadly, it’s been a disappointing one, lacking chemistry and passion. It shouldn’t be this way.

Perhaps the strangest act at this year’s Nurse’s Ball was the appearance of the 1970s band Player, who sang its big hit “Baby Come Back.”  This band’s lead singer is Ronn Moss, who, in an inside joke, is known to soap fans as Ridge Forrester on the competing soap The Bold and the Beautiful, a role he’s played for 25 years.  Seven year old Spencer Cassadine supposedly hired the band for the appearance, hoping to appeal to his pint sized straying girlfriend Emma Drake to dump Cameron Spencer and come back to him.   Emma, for her part, sang “Little Things” and did forgive Spencer for hiring the band, but wouldn’t give Spencer another chance. Even so, Moss, in a smug scene, thanked Spencer for the opportunity to be part of the Nurses’ Ball.

Lots of musical entreaties and declarations of love went back and forth this year. They don’t call this soap opera for nothing. 

Soaps: Where Intelligent Women Still Rule

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

Jane Ellliot’s Tracy Quartermaine is one of soaps’ leading Brainy Ladies

Women are still the core of soap opera.  They are what the plots are about and they make the stories go.  An overwhelming number of women on soap operas are very intelligent, assertive and masters of their own fates.  Here’s a round-up of the most intelligent and sometimes devious women on soap opera right now:

Quinn Fuller, The Bold and the Beautiful (Rena Sofer):  Quinn came onto to the show as a jewelry designer more than a  year ago.  She is sharp as a tack.  She will do anything to make sure her son Wyatt lands up with Hope, instead of his half-brother Liam, with whom Quinn has frequent arguments. This week Quinn bribed Bill Spencer into giving Liam the Spencer name, her leverage being sex pics of herself and Bill, which she threatened to show to Brooke.

Katie Spencer, B&B (Heather Tom): Katie fancied herself a regular girl until husband Bill cheated on her with  Brooke.  So she stepped up, using all her intelligence to run Spencer Publications, and at the same time obtaining custody of son Will.  Recently she lost it all because of supposed lost ownership and custody papers she previously signed, but wound up with soap’s ultimate prize: the love of and engagement to rich and handsome Ridge Forrester.

Jill Foster Abbott, The Young and the Restless (Jess Walton): Jill started her Genoa City life as a hairdresser, but grew into a more prominent position as she got older.  She married John Abbott and went to work at his company. Recently she married  charming Aussie  Colin Atkinson, but strongly assumes he only married her for Katherine’s inheritance.  This week she handcuffed Colin to a pipe in the attic and made him sign divorce papers.

Leslie Michaelson, Y&R (Angela Conwell): Leslie is a lawyer who represents unpopular causes and equally unpopular people like Ian Ward.  Recently she spurned the love of crybaby and general pain Neil to make a fast marriage to Dr.  Barton Shelby.

Alexis Davis, General Hospital (Nancy Grahn): Alexis is the smartest woman on daytime television, a very good lawyer and a strict mother. Only a smarty like Alexis could  keep criminal Sonny out of jail all this time.   Alexis’ problem is that she always gets involved with bad men like Sonny and her current crush, Julian Jerome.

Tracy Quartermaine, GH (Jane Elliot): Tracy has always been the smartest of the smart, a leading Quartermaine since the rich family came to town decades ago.  Her Achilles heel is Luke Spencer, to whom she has been married three times.  These days a secretly criminal Luke wants to wrest control of  the Quartermaine company ELQ to himself.  Will Tracy catch on and ward off his evil efforts?

There are more, of course. Who are your nominees for the Soap Opera Brainy Lady Hall of Fame?   

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.

Disgraceful, Delightful and Disgusting: This Week’s Soap Events

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

Ashlyn Pearce is Aly

From The Young and the Restless: This week Nick found out that a doppelganger for his dead daughter Cassie has been in town for months disgracefully spooking Sharon into getting shock treatments.  The look-alike (who doesn’t even have a name) admitted the sham and said that Victor had been paying her to impersonate Cassie.

When confronted, Victor tried to use every trick in the book to get out of admitting his guilt.  His main tactic was to say that Sharon herself has a secret and that she is no good for Nick.  Sharon decided not to press charges against the fake Cassie and Victor, so the net effect is that Victor gets away with yet another crime.  Why is Victor never caught or prosecuted for his treacherous, often criminal acts on Y&R?  It gets unbelievable after a while.

From The Bold and the Beautiful:  This week a delightful romance bloomed between late teenager Aly (Ashlyn Pearce) and Oliver (Zack Conroy).  Their kiss-filled scenes were very refreshing, including a pool sceneat the Forrester mansion involving underwater photography.  “She did a 180,” Carter raved about Alex’s personality switch from sour to sweet and in love to Maya, who didn’t believe that Oliver was sincere in his new affections for Aly.

But Aly is going to need all of her strength now that it is revealed that her father Thorne is sexually involved once again with Taylor.  Fifteen years ago, Taylor ran over and killed Aly’s mother Darla in a car accident and Aly has been a troubled, mercurial soul ever since, frequently acting out her anger.  Will the young sweet romance of Oliver and Ally, one of the nicest thing to happen on daytime in ages,  be able to survive all of Aly’s troubles and personality swings? 

From General Hospital:  Sonny just gets deeper and deeper into his troubles after shooting and murdering A.J.  This week, the very day of  A.J.’s funeral (which questionably centered more on Sonny than on memories of A.J.)  Sonny and Ava disgustingly made love in the Quartermaine tomb.   They were immediately caught by Morgan, Sonny’s son and Ava’s longtime love.  Can you imagine a father making love to his son’s girlfriend?  Yuck!  Morgan  is just about to tell Olivia, Sonny’s love, of his infidelity.  Will Olivia be able to forgive Sonny?   Regardless, Sonny is on a fast road to self-destruction.  Even though it is fascinating watching Maurice Benard’s performances as the disintegrating Sonny, this is indeed a sad story to watch.

General Hospital at 51: A Nifty Anniversary Episode

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

Maurice Benard’s Sonny, facing all the Carlys with a straight face

Soaps rarely celebrate anniversaries on camera.  But General Hospital had such a boffo 50th year, the 51st anniversary show just begged to be done. The resulting episode, which aired on April 1st, was a winner from start to finish.

As it should, it was introduced by pictures of Steve Hardy and Jessie Brewer  at the Nurse’s Desk at the dawn of creation of GH.  The episode centered on the Quartermaines, inasmuch as one of its chief members, A.J., had just passed away due to being shot by Sonny.  Monica was seen talking to his dead body, bemoaning the fact that everyone she had had a hand in raising in the family had died.  First A.J.  (the first time he was believed dead), who had been a troublemaker his whole life due partially to his alcoholism. And now Jason is believed dead. All  her children died way before their time, way too young, including daughter  Emily, who came  back from the dead to console her mother at A.J.’s sudden death.

Indeed, the episode made us realize that almost all the Quartermaines, the show’s central family for 40 years, are dead.  Only Tracy remains from the original family. At the end of the episode, Lila, Edward and Alan (who also is dead) were seen leading A.J. up a hospital staircase, presumably to heaven.   It’s hard for longtime GH viewers to believe that the Quartermaines are virtually gone.  Tracy’s sons Ned and Dillon live on, and A.J.’s son Michael survives. Jason, who is generally believed to be dead,  is actually comatose somewhere, waiting to be revived by some miracle work from Dr. Robin.

The anniversary’s show also featured flashbacks of Sonny and Carly in which Sonny pleaded with Carly not to turn him in for murdering A..J.  The flashbacks were accompanied by performances from Carlys past and present: Sarah Brown, Tamara Braun and today’s Carly, Laura Wright. All three looked great and performed in tour de force fashion, reliving the embattled couple’s many romances, miscarriages, marriages and reunions.  Through it all Maurice Bernard, played it straight as if the faces of Carly weren’t physically changing right before him. Quel plaisir!

Elsewhere,  life in Port Charles went on.  Brad missed his lover Lucas, who had dismissed him, because he had a longtime role in keeping secret that baby Ben really belonged biologically to Lulu and Dante, not to Britt, who stole their fertilized embryos and gave birth to him. Over at Elizabeth’s, the despised Dr. Obrecht kept Elizabeth and baby Ben hostage, waiting for Britt to come over to pick up her son and take him away.  Instead, at the end of the week, Britt showed up to help Dante and Lulu. Will Dr. O, who has kidnapped Ben for a second time this time, get away with her crimes? Will Dante and Lulu ever get baby Ben back?

After 51 years and counting, GH keeps us asking such questions.