General Hospital: The Antics of the Fiercely Driven Nina Clay

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

Michelle Stafford: Her Nina has scores aplenty to settle (photo from michaelfairmansoaps.com)

For the last year, General Hospital has certainly been a place for strong women.  The free-wheeling and combative Carly Jacks (Laura Wright), who will take no lip from the bullying Sonny, is a longtime resident. She’s been joined of late by shoot-from-the-hip Ava Jerome (Maura West), who came to town and took no prisoners.

Even stronger is the town’s newest resident, the vengeful shrew Nina Clay (played by soap superstar Michelle Stafford, who originated the role of Phyllis Summers Newman on The Young and the Restless.)

The roots of her relentless quest for comeuppance run deep. Twenty years ago, she was carrying her husband Silas’ baby when she discovered that he was cheating on her with Ava.  Nina’s mother forced a miscarriage by tricking her into taking a big dose of antidepressants, putting Nina into a coma that lasted 20 years.  After waking up this year, her hunger for revenge has been insatiable. She demands nothing less than the return of everything that was hers, and tin the process exact justice on everyone who comes into her path.

Her first order of business was to separate Silas from his current love, private investigator Sam Morgan.  She did this by drugging Silas and having Sam see him making out with her on a couch in their apartment.  Later she managed to sleep with Silas.  All along, Sam has felt Nina is somehow misleading Silas and she’s right. Nina has been faking the paralysis that supposedly has relegated her to a wheelchair.  Only her loyal nurse Rosalie knows it is all a fake.

At the same time, Nina has worked at getting involved with other Port Charles residents.  She befriended art therapist Franco on her visits to General Hospital for physical therapy, all the better to tell Franco she overheard Carly and Sonny discussing a kiss he had bestowed on her.  Of course, Carly later cheated on Franco with Sonny but got away with it.

Nina is among the most determined characters ever to appear on soap opera.  What an agenda she has! She says she doesn’t know the meaning of the word “can’t.” Right now, she’s maintaining a list of people she’d like to harm or get back at.  On that list is the pregnant Ava (whose baby she would eventually like to kidnap) and also Ava and Silas’s daughter Kiki.  Recently, Nina made Rosalie vow that she would wrest Michael, Kiki’s fiancé away from Kiki.

Will Nina Clay get all she wants?  Most likely.

Stafford plays her with a fierce determination that veers close to but never crosses into the realm of camp.  As Nina, Stafford is a cinch for another Emmy, an award she has already won for playing Phyllis on Y&R.   All we have to do is sit back and enjoy the antics of Nina Clay, the strongest woman in Port Charles and perhaps all of daytime soap opera history.

Oh No, Not Again! On General Hospital, Sonny and Carly Redux

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

Carly and Sonny: The heart wants what the heart wants, with pepperoni and extra cheese

Soaps rarely go backward.  So it was a big surprise this week on General Hospital when resident baddies Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Carly Jacks (Laura Wright) slept together again. Carly’s love Franco was stuck for the night in a hospital elevator with Nina when Sonny showed up at Carly’s house with a pizza — and so much more.

Carly and Sonny’s history stretches back nearly twenty years. They have been married to each other four times and have two sons — Michael (whose biological father is the late A.J. Quatermaine, but was raised by Sonny) and Morgan. In between marriages and other periods of togetherness, both Carly and Sonny have been involved with others.

Sonny went with Connie Falconeri before she was murdered and was last seen with her cousin Olivia, before the two amicably broke up just last week.

Meanwhile, Carly has been involved with Franco, who had a long sociopathic past all his own before he was operated on recently for a brain tumor, which suddenly transformed him into a benign art therapist at the hospital. Sonny’s irresistible late night pizza delivery notwithstanding, Carly still claims to love Franco, who came home from being stuck in the elevator and almost found Sonny in bed with Carly. But through a series of improbably lucky circumstances  Carly got away with it. But still …

Is there an ulterior motive in this sudden Sonny-Carly rematch?  After all, Franco knows the secret that Sonny murdered A.J. and if Franco turns him in, Sonny could go to jail. This being a soap with Sonny a central character, taking him out of the action for a long time seems highly unlikely.

But in the interim, the latest Carly-Sonny rematch is underway. Is this good news or bad? What do you think?  

Too-sweet Young Love on The Young and the Restless

The most sickeningly sweet new couple daytime are the newly married Summer Newman (Hunter King)  and Austin Travers (Matthew Atkinson). I simply can’t stand their fake billing and cooing and endless making eyes at each other.

Summer met Austin when he was a cameraman on Summer’s Aunt Avery’s cooking show.  At the time Austin was planning to kidnap and kill Avery, an attorney who had gotten Austin’s mother’s killer off a previous jail stint.  Austin and Summer fell in love, but not before Austin mistakenly shot Paul the police captain in the kidnapping attempt.

Serious business, kidnapping and attempted murder. But never fear, young lovers. The generous Paul agreed to a plea deal in which Austin doesn’t have to go to jail for his evil deeds. Not in any real court, of course, but this is soap opera. We get it. Our problem is, now we’re stuck with this cloying couple, probably for the duration. Ick!

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.

The Ho-Hum, Overly Violent Carly Kidnapping Denouement

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

Laura Wright’s Carly: Of course she was rescued!

We’ve already said that General Hospital’s Heather-kidnapping-Carly plot was a big ho-hum. Heather tried to blame it on Franco, her son, who had previously tried to kill Heather, his mother. No surprise, the accusation went nowhere and the outcome was predictable: Carly, a central GH character, just had to be rescued. And what of Heather getting loose from the asylum? So what else is new? No institution has succeeded in keeping her locked up for the past thirty years.

Sorry to report that the denouement of the story in which Franco found Carly in the Wyndemere catacombs was every bit a disappointment, despite its excessive violence – calculated, perhaps, to cover the lackluster story in fake blood. First, Franco was shot escaping prison, and then shot again by his mom, a wound not grievous enough to prevent him from stabbing her in the leg.

The rescue of wounded Franco and the trussed up Carly was finally accomplished by Anna and Nathan.  Franco and Carly  were seen declaring their love for one another.  How sweet. We can’t tell you how happy we are that two of the most unsavory characters in all of soap operas have finally found romantic nirvana with one another.

Three Couples and One Friendship to Watch in 2014

Romance is, after all, the soul of soap opera. So, if Franco and Carly don’t : warm your heart, here are three pairings that just might :

Ridge and Katie (Thorsten Kaye and Heather Tom) on The Bold and the Beautiful. These two characters, played by uncommonly terrific actors,  are in love but haven’t declared it yet.  You know that because they have had a recent romp in the park and suddenly Ridge and Katie have developed a mutual interest in poetry. Now they can read to each other, a particular treat when it’s Kaye’s turn, given his English accent and dulcet tones.

Ava and Morgan (Maura West and  Bryan Craig ) on General Hospital.  Who would have thought that a lurid affair between a 19 year old and an older woman could turn into GH’s deepest, most meaningful love story?  Chemistry and very good acting have lifted this pairing from something superficial to something sublime.

Julian and Alexis (William deVry and Nancy Lee Grahn) also on GH. Who would have thought that an almost renewed  affair between grandparents would be indescribably sexy? After all, this pair conceived Sam over three decades ago.  DeVry and Grahn have great chemistry despite what looks to be an age difference of about a decade.

And in the friendship department, keep an eye on Chloe and Chelsea (Elizabeth Hendrickson and Melissa Claire Egan) on The Young and the Restless. These two are best friends and are always refreshing to watch because of the great degree of honesty between them.  Chloe was right when Adam turned out to be a louse, running over and killing Delia.  What Chelsea didn’t count on was that Chloe was so jealous of her motherhood of Connor she’d wind up kidnapping him, as she did on Friday.

Sunday Reflections 20: General Hospital’s Farewell to Edward Quartermaine … The Pleasures and Pains of Soap Reruns

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

General Hospital:  Wasn’t the death of Edward Quartermaine nicely handled?  As visiting grandson Ned said in a toast:  “There will never be another Edward Quartermaine.” This  was also a tribute to the late John Ingle, the great actor who long played the role (originated by David Lewis.)  Perhaps the saddest scene soap history-wise was the agonized exclamation of Tracy at the family crypt: “There was always the four of us, including Edward, Lila, and Alan, and now there’s only me.”  All in all., a fond farewell  to daytime’s most feisty family, iconic  because they were perhaps just a bit like yours and definitely just like mine: endearing but dysfunctional and  fighting all the time.

The late, great John Ingle

GH, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the  Restless: As if to soften the blow, SoapNet gave us five rerun episodes of the Quartermaines on the family’s traditional pizza-eating holiday,  Thanksgiving, known to them as “Quartermainia.”’  Also giving us old episodes the day after Thanksgiving was Days of Our Lives (Susan’s Elvis themed wedding) and The Young and the Restless (Nikki and Victor’s second wedding.)

Don’t you just love watching soap reruns? Most of all, there’s the joy of seeing “friends,” characters you spent years with, some long forgotten and now delightfully rediscovered. I’m an especially soft touch for characters who had heart, like GH’s Laura and Tony Jones. But last week Marlena really enjoyed seeing her historic favorites, the humorous supporting characters like Reginald the footman on GH (whatever happened to him?),  Alice the wrestler/maid and  Foster and Annabelle, the Q dogs. They added spice to the famous Quartermaine family’s comic brew.

Perhaps the most fun of watching reruns is to see characters and actors in their younger form.  Weren’t younger Vanessa Marcil and Ingo Rademacher just gorgeous [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...]

General Hospital: Making Michael a Monster

By Ed Martin

Everything about General Hospital that I have come to loathe during the last ten years was on proud, pungent display last week, to such a degree of extreme outrageousness I could not look away.

I must admit that there was an infectious lunatic energy to it all, which could account for my deep fascination with what I was watching. Wasn’t the tumultuous birth of baby Jocelyn a kick, with poor kidnapped Carly helpless on that cabin couch

How grand would it be if Michael’s real father, A.J. Quartermaine, returned from the dead and found a way to destroy Sonny, now that he has turned Michael into an axe murderer?

and crazy Claudia helping her with her difficult delivery? How about the part when Michael stormed the cabin, saw Claudia holding the baby and killed her with one mighty swing of his axe? Good times — though not as satisfyingly violent as the time Sonny accidentally shot Carly in the head just as she [Read more...]

Daytime Emmy Noms 2008: The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same

emmyBy Marlena De Lacroix

I first attended and wrote about the Daytime Emmys in 1980 and I should be over them by now.  But I continue, year after year, to be exasperated by the fact that two things never change.  1) No matter how many times they have been revised or have been updated over the years, the nomination and award processes are still inequitable and unfair.  2) There is always one irritating thing that happens along the way with either the nominations or awards that’s so egregious, Marlena explodes with rage!

This year it happened right away, as the nominations were announced on The View.  The person interviewed on the show as a daytime awards expert/prognosticator wasn’t anyone from the soap press or a soap publication or blog.  Instead, he was a senior writer from People magazine.  I’m sure Marc D’Agostino is a capable  guy, but does he dedicate 100% of his working time and career to the soaps, the way soap journalists do, day after day, year after year, decade after decade?  Marlena, who has moved on to teaching, was born and bred in the soap press and has great respect for young soap magazine writers and editors who have full-time jobs doing interviews and other reporting on soaps. They deserve the spotlight!

This is not the first time ABC has gone for a big time magazine writer over a poor soap press scribe in publicizing its show.  Years ago [Read more...]