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.

General Hospital: Who is the Real Luke Spencer?

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

Tony Geary — Is it Luke or his doppelganger?

On soap operas, situations and characters change very slowly.  So it’s been somewhat of a shock that Luke Spencer, for most of his 35 years on General Hospital a lovable rogue, has turned into a major criminal.  It was revealed in the last few months that he’s the one who is bankrolling the drug ring run by Julian Jerome and that he wants to bring down Sonny Corinthos, the drug dealer who has been his friend for decades.

Some may argue that Luke is actually coming full circle.  After all, when he came to town in the late 70s, he was a criminal, albeit a low level one, in the Frank Smith organization.  But through the love of Laura Spencer, he transformed himself and became a hero.  He saved the world from the Cassidines’ weather machine and even became the mayor of Port Charles.

But what has really been strange about the Luke of recent days is why and how he has become a criminal again.  The “old” Luke was last seen when he was knocked out and held a drugged hostage at the Miscavige Home for the Criminally Insane by one of its residents, Heather Webber.  The “new” Luke, without any explanation, was seen plotting the take-over of the drug trade with Julian at Nicholas and Britt’s engagement party.

But is the new Luke really the same character as the old Luke?  Of course, he’s still being played by Tony Geary, master of the soap acting game after 35 years. But some fans suspect he may really be Luke’s look-alike cousin Bill Eckert, and a fan or two have suggested he might even be Heather in disguise.

Whatever, the new Luke is certainly behaving a bit differently than the old Luke.  He’s been seen doing drugs. He made more than one  pass at young Kiki, who kicked  him in groin in retaliation.  And he threatened the life of his fiancé Tracy’s Ned, who was trying to get him to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.

But whoever it is is certainly using Luke’s physical guise.  He’s again engaged to his ex-wife Tracy, not for love this time, but to get a job at ELQ, which he’ll use to launder the Jerome drug money. Does he still love Tracy? Who knows?  Geary’s excellent scenes with co-star Jane Elliot as Tracy continue after all these years. (How many total hours of air time have these two racked up together? Guinness Book of World Records, anyone?)

Why has GH decided to change Luke thus, especially without explanation.  It’s a question that needs to be answered if the audience is to get much further satisfaction out of the current storyline.  After years and years, it may be time to bring the unquestioned king of the Port Charles drug trade, Sonny Corinthos, down for good.  Sonny has been shown disintegrating with guilt after shooting and killing A.J.  Quartermaine. He’s poised for a fall.

But the last person anyone suspects might bring down Sonny is our Luke Spencer, the good guy who is a criminal once more.

General Hospital’s Entertaining Throughline: Kiki Isn’t a Quartermaine

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

For a soap that is frequently troubled and all over the place,General Hospital had a very entertaining week. That’s because it had a very definite throughline — the revelation to many that Kiki isn’t a Quartermaine – aimed at a Friday cliffhanger destination. Michael’s brother Morgan was set to marry her, but Michael, knowing that Kiki isn’t his biological  Quartermaine cousin, burst in at the last second to break up the wedding.

Kristen Alderson’s Kiki: Not a Q

Some adroitly complicated plotting got us to that point. Kiki’s lack of Q DNA has been something of an open secret for some time. The audience has long known the truth.  The only person who now really doesn’t know is Kiki herself, who carries on under the delusion that she has a Q family vote in who gets control of ELQ, Tracy or A.J. (Earlier she voted with A.J. who emerged victorious in the struggle.) Kiki’s mother Ava spilled the beans to Morgan, who then redoubled his efforts to get Kiki away from Michael.

So if Kiki isn’t a bona fide Q, what is her true lineage? It turns out her biological father is the normally chilly, Spock-like Silas, from whom this news elicits actual human emotions. Live long and prosper,  Michael Easton, a.k.a. John the cop and Caleb the vampire. You are the Leonard Nimoy of soaps.

The bombshell news that Kiki isn’t a real Q burst via the Port Charles Press, whose editor Connie found Kiki’s birth certificate after Tracy let her break into Ava and Franco’s room in the Q mansion. Going forward, this dramatic piece of investigative journalism may in some way lead to Connie’s exit from the show, or indeed from this earth. Kelly Sullivan, the spunky actress who plays her is due to leave the show, and fan speculation is that Connie will be murdered.

Who done it, or more accurately, who’s gonna do it?  It could be Kiki herself.  Ava was seen physically threatening the life of Silas should he go near his biological daughter, so violence toward Connie for exposing her long held secret is a possibility.   A.J. almost strangled Connie while confronting her that she had published the secret that led to him losing ELQ.  Sonny himself is mad at Connie for exposing the secret, since Michael and Kiki would stop thinking of themselves and being related and that would somehow ruin Morgan’s chance to marry Kiki.

The show had several great scenes this week. Sonny pistol whipping a hysterical A.J., when  he found A.J. threatening to strangle Connie was exciting.  A scene in which Tracy and Elizabeth debated A.J’s past failures was particularly well acted by Jane Elliot and Rebecca Herbst. Also well-turned by Michael Easton and Maura West  was a scene in which  Ava physically threatened Silas with a scissor to his  back should he make contact with his new daughter.

All week there was a real sense of suspense. Would Kiki and Morgan ultimately marry?  Will Connie really be done in, and by whom?   We’ll have to all tune in to GH next week to find  the answers to these ongoing  questions and more. Thankfully for the continued success of GH, we’re looking forward to it.

General Hospital Has Identity and Condiment Problems

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

The core of watching soap operas is to believe.  Unfortunately, General Hospital viewers had to put that value behind them this week when the show introduced new characters played by oh-so-familiar faces, all with new hair-dos to signify their new personae.  Michael Easton, who played John, is now playing Steven Clay’s brother Silas, who wears a pony tail.  With her hair naturally brunette, Kristin Alderson, who played Starr, is now playing Kiki. Superstar Roger Howarth, formerly known as the infamous Todd, now looks like a chic European supermodel in his dyed blond do, thus equipping him to play an oily character whose nefarious intentions are yet to be shared with the audience.

The GH producers had little choice but to recast the actors, when Prospect Park (the producers of the on-line All My Children and One Life to Live) prohibited them from using the actors as their former OLTL characters. I’m sure it was a hard choice.  They’re betting the loyalty of their audience on it. Will they lose viewers? Probably. Because belief is so fundamental to enjoying soap operas, I think GH will be on the losing end here.

The tricky situation won’t be as bad if the actors can manage to create new characters to go along with their new looks. This is a tall order – all three are strongly identified with their former screen selves. But they’re going to give it a go:  Easton – stuck as he is with his long face, dark gaze and trademark deep voice – is nonetheless trying to be someone new as Silas, the doctor brother of the dead serial killer Clay.  Howarth has used his new look to create someone who is very threatening and, at the same time, very intriguing. His name has yet to be revealed to the audience. Only Kristin Alderson appears not to be working very hard to make her Kiki substantially different from her Starr. Making the situation more confusing is the fact that Kiki is the poker playing girlfriend of Morgan. She used to be the girlfriend of his brother Michael, who at this point, must be very, very confused.

On The Chew: Mario Batali, Jane Ellliot and Michael Symon

However, GH did have a choice in doing a long sequence which promoted its ABC time slot on The Chew.  A. J. Quartermaine (the superbly charming Sean Kanan) pitted his Pickle-Lila formula vs. his aunt’s Tracy’s Pickle-Eddie in a condiment taste-off on air.  What followed was embarrassing mugging by The Chew cast (especially by chef Mario Batali) and even more hopeless overacting by the usually marvelous Jane Elliot, who plays Tracy. As you know the samples were poisoned (most probably by Roger Howarth’s new character) and Liz and Batali wound up in the hospital.

The whole sequence was too broad and over the top and reeked of the desperation of its own network-sponsored cross-promotion.   The story might have worked if so many episodes hadn’t been devoted to it.  In the end, we still don’t know which Pickle-Lila formula is actually better, and the ownership of ELQ is still in question.   Does Tracy own it or does A.J?  We can be reasonably sure we won’t find out any time soon. How much longer can we be expected to relish this interminable relish business?

General Hospital: The Misogyny-Ending Magic of Sabrina; A 50th Anniversary Appeal to GH Fans in the Poconos

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

Isn’t it amazing that we all seem to love General Hospitaldespite the fact that it’s scored three strikes within that many weeks?  The end of the vampire story was a real disaster, violent and oh so ridiculous.  Speaking of ridiculous, isn’t Sonny romancing — and sleeping with — both alters, Connie and Kate, that, and kind of disgusting as well?  Kind of beating up the mentally ill with a club, no?

Teresa Castillo as Sabrina Santiago
Marlena adores her combination of strength and vulnerability.

But worst of all is the entirely unexpected simplistic writing of the renewed Luke/Laura/Scotty triangle. Who ever would have thought they’d so waste the talents of Geary/Francis/Shriner? The only thing enjoyable about that for which we waited decades is Tracy’s jealous (and quite humorous) reaction to it all.  Jane Elliot has the only character here that’s being given the least bit of sophisticated dialogue and she’s been delivering it with aplomb, so deliciously Tracy style.

But now I’m going to say something I know so many viewers don’t agree with.  I love Sabrina, and have from the very start. Teresa Castillo gives her an innocence and youthful idealism that [Read more...]

General Hospital: Can This Show Be Saved?

By Ed Martin

Watching General Hospital these last two weeks, as the energetic efforts of One Life to Live veterans Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati to save the show from almost certain doom begin to play out, it occurs to me that my time as a fan of this once-formidable serial has come full circle. I began watching GH in 1978, shortly after 

I’d like to see the new regime make moves as bold as those the late Gloria Monty made way back in the Seventies since, again, there is nothing to lose. The best suggestion here would be to eliminate the characters whose storylines have brought the show to its knees.

fearless executive producer Gloria Monty had been brought on board to save the show from seemingly certain cancellation. In fact, as legend has it, [Read more...]