General Hospital: Spencer Becomes a Burn Victim

Nicolas Bechtel

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

Who could have imagined there’d be an ongoing end of sweeps storyline that is so shocking it could practically upstage the mighty and controversial six month old Luke/Fluke story on General Hospital?

But here it is: ten-year-old Spencer (Nicolas Bechtel) was severely burned on face and body this week in a fire that broke out in the living room of  Wyndemere. Thankfully, he was rescued by Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) and Patrick (Jason Thompson), but when last seen at the end of the week was in Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston.

Shriners is a real place, of course – one of a network of 22 world renowned nonprofit hospitals that specialize in treating children with burns, orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.   Initially, Spencer was taken to General Hospital, then transferred to Shriners for the advanced care he could receive there.

Shriners is partnering with ABC and GH in this storyline set in a real hospital, dramatizing the invaluable work it does for victims and their families. Thousands of children have been treated in burn units like the one Spencer currently occupies, and thousands of parents like Nikolas have been at their bedsides throughout.

I am of two minds about the entire fire story.

First of all, I am very disturbed by it.  Whatever happened to the old soap rule that you don’t do stories in which children are harmed or killed? (The rule has been broken several times in the past.) It is felt that mothers especially can’t bear to watch children being harmed.   GH must be desperate to do such a story, and that doesn’t work for such a classy show. The last time I was so disturbed by an endangered child story was in 2008 when twelve-year-old Michael Quartermaine (then Dylan Cash, now Chad Duell) bought a gun to imitate his mob boss father Sonny.

But this storyline does provide a service for the viewers that is admirable.  The storyline is great for the prestigious Shriners, which has never advertised on daytime before. And it’s even greater for GH.  This storyline, which is sprinkled with commercials for Shriners, is a public service,  and a feather in the cap  all those at the network, and especially executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati.

The fire started after Spencer’s birthday party when Cameron (Michael Leone) accidentally knocked a swag bag onto a candle as he was leaving. Emma (Brooklyn Rae Silzer) and Spencer were alone dancing and unrealistically didn’t hear the alarm or smell smoke.  Emma escaped unharmed and ran for help to her father who was elsewhere in the mansion with Nikolas. Spencer went back into the fire to get his personalized boxing robe, a gift from Sonny he had received at the party.  Part of the roof caved in and Spencer was trapped.  He suffered the burns when the fire escalated. Nikolas and Patrick found him in the nick of time and rushed him to General Hospital.

At General Hospital something very unusual happened.  Absurd chief of staff, ex-criminal Dr. Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) — the chief of staff  of General Hospital always was and should be always a good guy — was given the honor of revealing Shriners participation.  As you know, Obrecht is always the personification of evil — until now.  I was shocked.

This storyline was designed as well to capitalize on the talent of the Bechtel, a child actor I have praised in the past.  This charmed child can do anything, comedy or drama.  Of course, the story wouldn’t work without Christopher.  He is always so natural.  I love their father and son scenes together, especially in this storyline. They are so powerful. Near the end of the week there was a scene in which Nicolas assured Spencer that the Shriners doctor would help him recover. I cried!

So this week, I will continue to watch the Spencer is burned story with tissue in hand.  As intended!

For more information about Shriners Hospitals for Children and how to make donations, click here.

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. 

They Make My Day

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

Who are your current favorite soap characters – the ones who make your day as soon as you see they will be in an episode of your favorite daytime drama? Here are my current faves:

Jessica Collins

* Avery Clark (played by Jessica Collins), The Young and the Restless. She’s the only soap character I can think of that I ever wanted as a personal friend.  She’s mature, intelligent and compassionate.  In other words, a great soap heroine.  Everything’s gone fine with her for a while, but will her heart be broken before her scheduled walk down the aisle with Nick Newman?

* Dr. Liesl Obrecht (played by Kathleen Gati), General Hospital. There are many different kinds of villains on daytime: nasty, snide, self-deluded, pathologically dishonest and even downright vicious.  But very few  are sheer fun. The Machiavellian Dr. Obrecht is one. Unburdened by any moral compass, she happily employs any means to her end. Plus she’s in on several of GH ’s big plot secrets such as who is the father of her daughter Britt’s child. This is a great performance by the spirited Gati.

* Maya Avant (played by Karla Mosley), The Bold and the Beautiful. Whether she’s kissing her “true love” Rick or making out with Carter, I root for Maya.  Perhaps it’s her big brown doe eyes, which seem to be a window to her soul.  Mosley is very pretty and looked downright beautiful in this week’s Forrester fashion show.

 * Bill Spencer (played by Don Diamont), B&B.   No, I don’t really like him, but I love to hate this adulterous cheater. His macho attitude and silver jewelry are so over the top they make him laughable. Here’s a guy whose ego always walks ten feet in front of him,  guaranteeing trouble for all the ladies on the show.

 Which soap characters make your day in these dog days of summer?  


General Hospital: Think of the Real Laura

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

Let’s start off with the positive here: The Nurse’s Ball is coming closer and closer (to be aired the week of April 1) and both current and we longtime General Hospital fans sure have a lot to look forward to.

Genie Francis

After  a few mediocre weeks (starting with the end of the vampire story), GH  delivered an episode this Friday that was quite good and full of the surprises Mr. Calivati had promised us on Twitter the day before.  I literally screamed when it was revealed that Britt and the shockingly returned Dr. Lisa Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) were mother and daughter.  The beloved Bobbie (Jackie Zeman) finally reappeared, too.  Then Nicholas (Tyler Christopher) came home at the end of the episode, and I surprised myself by bursting into sentimental tears when he and his mother Laura embraced.

Indeed, there have been all kinds of screaming at Chez Marlena for the last two or three weeks and it hasn’t always been screams of delight. My fellow GH watcher Moose (a novice, who is still learning which end is up, GH-wise) braces for the coming storm of outrage and Nigel, our beagle, hides in [Read more…]