General Hospital: Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson

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

Last week we condemned an Eric and Quinn romance on The Bold and the Beautiful because of the thirty- plus-years age difference.  But this week I’m going to be a tremendous hypocrite and give a compliment to the fact that forty-something Ava slept with 19 year old Morgan on General Hospital this week.  It was good soap opera because it was entirely unexpected.

Maura West, GH’s Mrs. Robinson: “Jesus loves you more than you will know (wo, wo, wo)”

As you may recall, Ava jumped into bed with Morgan after being dejected that the man she loves – Silas, the biological father of her daughter Kiki — doesn’t care for her and is instead interested in Sam.  But what really kicked off the liaison was when Sonny blurted out that he knew that Morgan knew Kiki wasn’t related to Michael before he married her. It effectively broke up the marriage of Morgan and Kiki, finally sending Kiki into Michael’s arms. 

We can’t remember a case of the Mrs. Robinson syndrome happening on a soap before.  Mrs. Robinson, of course, was the older woman who slept with college grad Benjamin in The Graduate. Having Ava sleep with Morgan was a very daring step for a soap.

The scenes made for some good drama. GH being a soap, the liaison didn’t stay a secret for long.  Hotel owner Carly let herself into Ava’s hotel room with a pass key and was livid when she found her son in bed with the older woman. (Never mind that Carly would probably do a similar thing if it fit her agenda.)  But what really was entertaining was when Michael and Kiki later discovered Ava in bed with Morgan. “I hit the sheets with your mother,” jeered spiteful Morganl, who almost danced with glee at the opportunity to get back at his emotionally unfaithful wife.  Kiki’s eyes bulged with anger.

The sequence’s content also strengthened the acting of two of the cast’s weaker actors,  Bryan Craig, who plays Morgan, and Kristen Alderson, who plays Kiki.  Neither have been very convincing in their roles.  Yet Craig played Morgan’s obnoxiousness and immaturity quite well here.

The situation also proved overall that Ava is turning out to be the most valuable player in GH’s cast.   Sleeping with her daughter’s husband is only the latest “accomplishment” of this character who defines the word unpredictable.  As you may recall, she has lied repeatedly, she shot Olivia, she withheld her knowledge of the identity of Kiki’s father from Kiki, Michael and Franco, and she may even have shot Connie.  (The initials “A.J,” as in Ava Jerome, was found written in blood next to Connie’s body). It helps that Ava is played by Maura West who is hands down this year’s best new actress in a role.  We can’t wait to see what Ava, er, Mrs. Robinson will do next. 

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Lyrics from “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel

General Hospital: The Emergence of Ava Jerome, One Intriguing Woman

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

They showed her from her legs up, clad in a drop dead red halter dress.  This week on General Hospital, Ava Jerome was revealed to be the sister of the new power broker in town — Derek Wells. As played by soap veteran William deVry, Derek has a shady past: he really is one of GH’s old mob chiefs.  He was revealed to be the once thought dead Julian Jerome. His “little sister” Ava  has  been in town for a while, gathering power little by little.

Maura West

This reveal was so captivating because it was so well planned. For the past few months, GH has been slowly building up the new central character Ava, as played by daytime superstar Maura West (who became famous playing the wily Carly Tenney on As the World Turns and later the murdered Diane Jenkins on The Young and the Restless.)  Making Ava a central powerful character is a stellar choice by GH because daytime talent doesn’t get any better than West, a very accomplished actress and an expert at playing femme fatales and strong women on soaps.

When Ava came to town, she was a New York art dealer and the mother of Kiki Jerome (played by Kristen Alderson.)  At first Ava was shown to be a conniver, trying to get Kiki to vote her portion of the ELQ stocks with Tracy. Later, Ava was revealed to be the ex of Franco, who was presumably Kiki’s father. (It has since been shown that Silas Clay, another of Ava’s ex’s, is secretly Kiki’s biological father.)

But the GH audience was shown that Ava is much more than all this.  On the one hand she is seen trying to form an alliance with Franco against Tracy, while on the other she is the woman who tried to shoot him, hitting Olivia instead.  Her responsibility for this crime has never been exposed, at least so far. Ava  has been revealed to be an active member of the Jerome crime family, and the spotlight on West as a central GH character is shining even more brightly.

Quite deftly, GH has developed Ava into a very complex character, full of contradictions and mysterious as yet unanswered questions. She’s has become a very intriguing  woman indeed – and much more fun than a conventional heroine.

So, Thinking Fans, what do you think of the Ava as a powerhouse GH character? Are you rooting for or against Ava?  What do you think of West in the role? Discutez, s’il vous plait.

Why General Hospital Is So Unsatisfying to Watch Right Now

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

We had hope, didn’t we, in those heady days when General Hospital, the leading survivor among network daytime soaps, seemed to be in the ascendancy again. Alas, the good times have faded. These days, watching GH is a very frustrating experience.   Many of the storylines are unsatisfying. The characters don’t make much sense and the stories lack motivation and have holes in them. 

Roger Howarth’s Franco, dancing as fast as he can

The show still seems to still be struggling to come to terms with its three character switches, if that is fully possible.  As Franco, Roger Howarth (formerly Todd) is dancing as fast as he can, but still can’t seem to escape the character’s unseemly and criminal past, no matter how much the show “factually” absolves him of his sins — responsibility for Michael’s rape, Sam’s non-rape, etc.  Kristen Alderson (formerly Starr) is still terrible as Kiki, her eyes bulging and mouth always agape as she engages in her forbidden romance with biological cousin Michael.  As Silas, Michael Easton seems too cold as a cancer doctor, and does not even exhibit his trademark sex chemistry (from when he played John) with Kelly Monaco, who still plays Sam.

At least they have tried to cross Silas into a new story.  He seems to have a romantic past with Ava, as played by Maura West, the show’s revelation as an actress. West carries on as well as can be expected, considering that her fairly new character is so quickly saddled with the shooting of Olivia.  How can she get away with it and still be on the canvas?

Forever pregnant? Dr. Britt (Kelly Thiebaud) and Maxie (Kristen Storms)

The show has crossed Nicholas into a story with Britt, who is still – in what may be soap opera’s longest gestation period — pregnant with Patrick’s baby.   For some reason not well explained or even likely, Britt and Nicholas seem interested in each other.   Meanwhile, Patrick (supposedly the father of Britt’s baby) and Sabrina continue their romance, which lacks any kind of authentic sexual spark and is thus hard to believe.  

And speaking of endless pregnancies, what about Maxie, who is carrying her own baby, secretly fathered by Spinelli. She is the surrogate mother to what she is passing off as Lulu and Dante’s daughter, although many fans think Britt’s baby is really their transplanted embryo.  Got that?  We’re really in trouble when whole scenarios dreamed up by fans as well as the writers are equally unappealing.

Even worse, there are signs that GH may be retreating into the world of Bob Guza, with all its bad taste and silly violence! How else to explain Don Sonny ordering a compliant Shawn to beat Franco to a bloody pulp? It was uncalled for and gross.  And can’t the “creative” team do better than the creepy gay lab tech Brad trying to blackmail the straight Michael into sleeping with him to silence his knowledge that Kiki and Michael are romantically involved?

Listen up, GH! We were so happy when you seemed to leave all that shallow sleaze in the rear view mirror. Turn back at your peril.

A Negative Vote on This Year’s Daytime Emmys

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

Last year I praised HLN’s first production of the Daytime Emmys because it was straightforward and lean.  This year’s show was exactly the opposite — overlong (almost three hours) and full of things that just shouldn’t have been included.  Boring!

Doug Davidson and his well-deserved and long overdue Best Actor award (Photo by Richard ShotwellInvision/AP)

How about that couch?  I’m talking about the one on which winners were interviewed by such “journalists” as Giada Di Laurantiis and Sheryl Underwood.  At least some of the winners — Best Actor Doug Davidson and Best Supporting Actress Julie Marie Berman, for instance — handled themselves well and with grace in the awkward situation.  There was just too much stuff stuffed into the show — like two Lifetime Achievement awards (Monty Hall and Bob Stewart) and presentation of three generic Best Song performances by co-host Robin Meade (who is at least a pretty woman with a nice voice).  Nancy Lee Grahn’s brief comedy bits filmed outdoors were not very good..

The whole problem with the show is that in content it aimed to be a major network presentation, but missed because of poor and cheap production.  It makes us remember and appreciate what a good job Dick Clark Productions did with the show over the years.  The hosts — Sam Champion, A.J. Hammer and Meade — were just meh, and scattershot appearances by them did nothing to keep the whole production feeling cohesive.  All in all, the 40th annual Daytime Emmys was a production not befitting of its own lofty aims or of the hard work done on daytime television by so many creative people over the year.

The winners in most of the acting categories, on the other hand, were well chosen.  Finally, Davidson deservedly won his Best Actor statuette after 35 years in the show in a very emotional storyline on The Young and the Restless (Paul shot his would-be murderer son Ricky.)   The Bold and the Beautiful’s Heather Tom always excels, particularly in her storyline in which Katie suffered a near-psychotic breakdown after the birth of her son.  And General Hospital’s Julie Marie Berman’s win as Best Supporting Actress was a good parting gift from the show.

Speaking of GH, wasn’t the show shortchanged in a year when the big awards (Best Show, Best Writing, Best Direction) went to B&B. Not that B&B had a bad year (it was very good, especially with the scenes leading up to Stephanie’s death), but GH literally had its finest years in decades, an everyday must-see show which corrected the mistakes made by the horribly crime-centric longtime headwriter Bob Guza.  Except for an underserved award for Best Young Actress to Kristen Alderson (while she was still playing Starr Manning), GH deserved many more awards and  rewards this year.

On Days of Our Lives, Chandler Massey was rewarded for a very nice job with Best Younger Actor. Then the show went on to score the evening’s the real upset – Days won as Best Soap.  As bitterly noted by executive producer Ken Corday in his acceptance speech, this was the first time in 38 years the show had won the ultimate award.

So, Thinking Fans, did Days deserve it?

General Hospital: How to Keep the Magic Going

By Ed Martin 

I understand the 50th anniversary excitement on General Hospital will continue for most of the rest of this year, even if certain aspects of it are beginning to die down. The fun and excitement that has permeated Port Charles of late still seems like some kind of miracle after at least 15 years of turgid mob drama and virulent disrespect for the show’s loyal audience. As a veteran viewer of 35 years I couldn’t

Like millions of other viewers the returns of so many legacy characters, the countless references to so many plot points dating back over 30 years and the utter absence of mob action has me over the moon. But …

be happier with much of what I have seen in recent weeks, when the vibe of the show has actually come close to the power it had circa 1978-1985, the years when GH enjoyed its highest ratings and widest profit margins. 

Like millions of other viewers the returns of so many legacy characters, the countless references to so many plot points dating back over 30 years and the utter absence of mob action has me over the moon. That can’t last forever, but I would like to at least remain afloat even after this nostalgic trip runs its course, as it inevitably must. So here are a few unsolicited suggestions for how that might happen.

I would like to never again see Helena or Stavros Cassadine. Thirty years of the fabled Cassadine Curse has been enough. This story is played. It’s time to move on to something new. This was never intended to be an arc that would span so many decades. 

I would like to see Emily Quartermaine return from the dead, and I would like Natalia Livingston to continue portraying her, even on a limited basis. Was I the only one who noticed how Spirit Emily lit up the Quartermaine living room during Monica and Tracy’s relish-induced fever dream (or whatever the heck that was)? 

I would love to see the Rick Webber mess of 2002 cleaned up. There must be a way to rewrite bad soap stories from years past – after all, dozens of soap scribes over the years have had no difficulty rewriting good soap history, even when viewers haven’t wanted them to do so! I don’t mind at all if this means bringing Rick back from the dead, as well. Remember, when Spirit Rick appeared to Monica and Tracy he said something about the past not being what it seemed. And it was a joy to see Chris Robinson again. That stupid story about Rick’s secret affair with a nurse forever stained Rick and Scotty, and it played fast and loose with the classic Lesley-Rick-Monica romantic triangle that did as much for the show during its best years as any Luke and Laura adventure. The clean up could involve Rick and Lesley’s adopted son Mike Webber, whom I don’t remember being mentioned during the 50th anniversary hoopla, and maybe a guest appearance by Rick’s other ex, Ginny Blake Webber (if the awesome Judith Chapman can get a few days off from The Young and the Restless). The possibilities for this storyline are endless. The urgent need for a Rick fix is profound. 

And speaking of Lesley, where the heck was Denise Alexander during the show’s 50th anniversary celebration? We know Lesley is off at Nikolas’ home in Lake Como, taking care of little Spencer, but what the heck is that all about? Is Alexander ailing? Why wouldn’t (or couldn’t) she come home for a day or two? We need to see Lesley and Laura together again. Theirs is the most memorable mother-daughter relationship in the history of daytime drama. 

I would like to see Brenda Barrett leave Port Charles once and for all. Like all things Cassadine, her perpetually pointless storylines are played out. I’ll always have fond memories of Sonny and Brenda and their fabulous mess of a relationship, but that story is long over. 

And speaking of Sonny, what to do with him now that it is abundantly clear that nobody wants GH to return to stories of mob-related madness and murder? Can he go legit? Can he simply leave town? Would that be so bad? (Seriously, does anyone miss hit-man Jason?) After what we’ve seen on GH during the last few months, a mob story would be as welcome as more vampire nonsense. 

There. I said it! That bizarre turn into faux-vampire melodrama two months ago was an epic fail in every way: story, acting, direction, production values, etc. Happily, GH is so strong these days that it sustained what could have been a fatal blow. Remember, such ill-advised supernatural stuff was the very thing that killed the long-forgotten GH spin-off Port Charles ten years ago! Why damage GH and so grievously compromise the Lucy Coe character just to satisfy the six people who were watching PC during its death throes? I don’t ever want to hear the name Caleb Morley again, though that isn’t going to be easy with young Rafe around. 

And speaking of Rafe, I’d like to see him come between Molly and TJ in a fun summertime storyline filled with over the top teeny-something drama, the likes of which GH hasn’t winningly served up since the Laura-Scotty-Bobbie story way back in Seventies (when Bobbie was a royal rhymes-with-witch). 

And speaking of Bobbie, wasn’t it great to have her back in town? Can we have Jacklyn Zeman back as various storylines involving Bobbie’s daughter, brother, grand-children and other relatives might dictate? And can we please get periodic updates on her renewed friendship and professional relationship with Dr. Noah Drake out in Seattle? (Wasn’t that the nicest surprise to come out of all that 50th anniversary excitement?) 

I’d like to see new love interests for Tracy and Monica. When I think of Tracy with Luke or with Joe Scully Jr., and of Monica with Alan, it seems that the show is missing out on something special without love stories for the two of them. Wouldn’t it be great if a hot younger man fell for Tracy? I mean really fell for her, without any ulterior motives? Jane Elliot (who really ought to be nominated for an Emmy this year) would hit that one out of the park. 

Meantime, how about a sex life or love life for poor Felix? There must be another gay man somewhere in Port Charles. If not, he should hurry over to Salem, where he can take his pick. 

I’d like for there to be something new for Duke to do. I’m still not sure why GH went to such great lengths to bring him back from the dead … not when there are so many other deceased characters whose returns would really charge up the show and clear away the dark clouds that have hovered over it since they died. And yes, I’m talking about Alan Quartermaine, Emily Quartermaine, Rick Webber and Georgie Jones. 

And speaking of Georgie, surely there is some way to bring her back from the great beyond? She’d be a great source of support for the perpetually perplexed Maxie, and she would be a welcome addition to the story of Mac and Felicia, currently the show’s most delightful romance (and one that must continue). 

I’d like to see Robert return to Port Charles, perhaps with Holly, absent any memories of Robin being alive or Luke lying to him about Ethan’s parentage. Perhaps he could work with Kevin Collins at trying to remember what he saw in that Swiss clinic and finally figure out that his daughter isn’t dead. Then he, Anna and anyone else who cares to could once and for all get down to the business of rescuing Robin. At this point I don’t think it would hurt to recast the character – after all, three actresses have portrayed Carly, the female lead of the show. The story of Robin’s disappearance simply isn’t interesting enough to drag out on an indefinite basis. And I can’t imagine why Jerry Jacks would bother doing it. 

Lastly, I wonder if we really need Michael Easton, Roger Howarth and Kristen Alderson back on the canvas as three new characters. There are already too many doubles in play: Sam and Lizzie, McBain and Morley, Tomas and Lorenzo. Can we really be expected to accept three more? I still can’t believe Prospect Park is being so churlish about ownership rights to the characters of John McBain, Todd Manning and Starr Manning. Why not let them briefly appear on the revived One Life to Live and then head back to GH? If the new OLTL can’t survive without these three characters then chances are it’s doomed. If I’m being honest, GH doesn’t really need any of them, but if they have to return to Port Charles I would rather they be themselves.

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Ed Martin writes regularly for MediaPost.com, MediaBizBloggers.com, TV Worth Watching and the Huffington Post. He’s been the programming and entertainment editor for several JackMyers Report publications since 2000, including The Myers Programming Report, The Jack Myers Entertainment Report and, at present, Ed Martin’s TV Buzz and TiVoWorthy TV on JackMyers.com. Follow Ed Martin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PlanetEd.

Marlena Refreshed and General Hospital Done Right

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

Hi, darlings!   How do you like the marlenadelacroix.com site’s new look?  Marlena needed to be refreshed, so I went in for some work.  If Jeanne Cooper can have her face lifted so publicly on screen as Katherine Chancellor so many years ago on The Young and the Restless, and the equally sublime Linda Dano went on record with  having had portions of her face touched up when she  was on  Another World (where she played Felicia Gallant). I’ll be out there and publicly acknowledge … some “surgery” done … on this blog.  I’ve brought aboard a photo of  the  statue of  “The Thinker,” (right)  which Marlena saw at the Rodin Museum the last time she was in  Paris, as some inspiration for all of  us Thinking Fans.  You think a chisled male body is something they invented for  just for soap operas? Marlena loves Mr. Thinker for his  brain and his reflective nature, of course!

Speaking of beauty, I just want to give an admiring shout out to the hair and make-up   departments of General Hospital for making Kristen Alderson look [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...]

Marlena in New York Magazine

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Thinking Fans Comment Update Aug. 15: The judges’ hits and misses, according to Dale, Cherry Ames, Purple Haze et al. See Comments below. 

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As a longtime soap opera journalist, I was asked by New York Magazine this week to be one of five judges to pick five of the most promising young soap opera stars.  Yes, that’s moi, under my real name, topping the list of judges.  See the article here.

                                                  Marlena

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