Sunday Reflections 22: Bad Plots on Young and Restless and General Hospital Draw Marlena’s Ire!

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

The Young and the Restless:  There’s a lot of squawking on the net that, compared to General Hospital, Y&R  is slow, not that entertaining and a bit hard to watch.  I agree somewhat, but counsel patience: the new writing and production regime has been in place less than two months. They have a lot to repair. They’ve barely had enough time to review the entire show. Even so, I do have a few comments on two new storylines.

Hunter King as Summer

I really don’t like the cyber-bullying story in which extra mean kids Summer and Fen are torturing Jamie, a kid who is so fragile he  looks like he’s having a nervous breakdown.  I know it’s a well-intentioned story, but it’s kind of the issue du jour and has been done many times elsewhere in practically all media, most recently on daytime on One Life to Live with that miserable Jack Manning as the bully. The story has a dimension of realism inasmuch as Y&R’s kids come from parents with checkered pasts themselves, such as Summer’s psycho slut mother Phyllis and Fen’s father, former bad boy Michael.  For years we watched these elder characters mess up their lives as their younger selves. Now they’re grown up and trying to project authority as parents when they haven’t yet healed themselves. The result for the viewer is a succession of messy scenes of intergenerational yelling and rancor, so far not leading anywhere. Classic soap opera it’s not.

Max Erich as Fen

I don’t watch soap operas to see endless scenes of parents fighting with kids. Blech!  I had enough of that as a teenager myself, plus there’s no romance there (at least not yet!).  It’s obvious that the writers have some experience with real teenagers — Summer and Fen are realistic terrors.  When Fen sulks and stalks away from the dinner table and his frustrated  parents Michael and  Lauren — well, honey, Marlena played that same role herself a million times as a less than adorable teen.  However authentic, again, this kind of misery is not what I watch soap operas for.  Whatever happened to the days when kids (like Beth and Phillip on Guiding Light) spent their teenage years discovering the joy and mysteries of love? I’m sorry, but there’s no reason to sit through agonizing shouting matches with rotten kids like these — unless they are your own.

I’m also very disappointed in the excuse they’ve suddenly given to Sharon for all her dastardly acts against the Newmans in a former writing regime.  She’s been diagnosed as a manic-depressive, which is balderdash.  A bipolar disease is one that is life-long and very serious, not some handy alternative for writers who are in desperate need of a device to redeem a character. She can’t come down with the disease overnight!  Burning down a house (as Sharon did the Newman ranch) is psychotic, not manic.  Y&R is doing the audience a real disservice by using this widespread and harrowing disease as a handy plot device, even if being bipolar seems to be the illness du jour in drama and real life these days.

General Hospital: What a surprise to see a bomb of a story take place at the end of GH’s successful sweeps.  This is the one in which Sky, Carly and Todd rushed to Llanview to stop Blair’s wedding to Tomas, who they contend is really Alcazar. (Both roles were coincidentally played by the same actor, Ted King:  Tomas on One Life to Live and Alcazar on GH.)  But soon after the threesome arrived and before the hyped up confrontation, Tomas skipped town, meaning King didn’t appear at all.  So the whole effort — and story — was futile.  Why bother to do the story at all when you are not even going to include Alacazar/Tomas/King in the scenes? Was King unavailable?  I did not laugh when the CIA agent who arrived at Blair’s house to deliver the news that Tomas suddenly had to leave on assignment identified himself as “Theodore King.”

What’s That Smell?

nora green hairBy Marlena De Lacroix

On Saturday,  my husband Moose and I were driving on a back road through the Pennsylvania woods to have dinner at a very good restaurant. Suddenly a familiar tell-tale putrid smell entered the car.

Skunk!

I gasped and a few seconds later my eyes welled up in tears.  No, the tears didn’t come from the intensity of the odor entering the car. They came from the stab of pure humiliation I was suddenly feeling in my heart. That’s because my mind had immediately flashed back the sight of poor Bob Woods sitting up to his neck in a bathtub of tomato juice on One Life to Live a few days before.  This Wednesday’s or Thursday’s episode was one of a

I have watched these shows forever and have written about them … almost forever.  Unlike movies or night-time TV, the producers of these daytime shows have been known to — and are allowed to — make ‘comments’ on their actors by showing their characters in certain situations …

week-long storyline in which  supposedly amusing “mishaps” kept happening to Bo and Nora, the beleaguered couple, leading up to [Read more...]

One Life To Live at 40: That’s Entertainment!

OLTL cast

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 18: EricMontreal22 recalls OLTL 1980 … Dale salutes Phil Carey … norn calls Llanview home away from home … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Happy 40th birthday, One Life to Live!  I’ve been wracking my brain for weeks, trying to come up with an overall through-line for the four decades this show has been broadcast daily on ABC.  But it’s hard to find one, because, within that span of years, the drama has gone through so many different eras and been presented in so many different styles, by so many writers and producers with individualistic approaches.  So why have I continued watching through it all?  Forty years is  a long time, indeed most of my adult  lifetime!

And then it struck me:  I’ve watched OLTL so long simply because it has always been entertaining, and in so many ways!

I loved the social  relevance and the breakthrough ethnic and racial diversity of the early Agnes Nixon years.  When Carla Gray, who was black and passing for white, confessed all her problems and her pain to [Read more...]

One Life To Live at 40: How Has One Life Changed Your Life?

One Life to Live original

By Marlena De Lacroix

One Life to Live‘s 40th anniversary is next week.  I’ve watched the show for 39 of those forty years, so it’s been a big part of my life!  And it has meant a tremendous amount to me.  Thinking Fans, I’m interested in how OLTL has affected your life, what it has meant to you, your evaluations and memories of the storylines which have meant the most to you personally.  How has One Life changed your life?

Here’s my One Life to Live story:

I am 14, maybe 15, a latchkey kid in Queens, New York, watching TV after a day of high school.  I’m watching ABC, waiting for that weirdo [Read more...]

Marlena to One Life to Live: “I Hate Todd”

Tervor St. JohnBy Marlena De Lacroix

I never liked the character of Todd Manning on One Life to Live.  I never understood him.   After he was introduced in 1992 as one of three gang rapists of college coed Marty Saybrooke, the character skyrocketed to become one of most popular characters on OLTL, if not all of soaps, and has stayed that way until today.

Why? Why have millions of soap viewers been obsessed — enamored — with this convicted rapist for the last 16 years (with hiatuses, as when the character left town and returned)?  Why has the show devoted years of storyline time to and all but made a hero out of … a criminal?

Perhaps now, the mystery of Todd will be fully unraveled.  After years of endless storylines meant to redeem him (which I will recount below), OLTL looks [Read more...]

One Life To Live: Don’t Anoint It Best Yet, Part 2

By Marlena De Lacroix

As I said in Part 1, an earlier post, the bravura scripts of One Life To Live‘s new head writer Ron Carlivati have made OLTL the soap to watch for thinking soap fans who enjoy sophisticated writing.  Whether it’s because so many of other soaps are abysmal right now, or because we’re all so desperate for a soap to love, some journalists have jumped to deem OLTL the “Best Soap.”  I’ve always made it a practice to watch a soap for a year before conferring such an accolade.  Carlivati has been official headwriter for only three months!

[Read more...]

One Life to Live: Don’t Anoint It Best Yet! (Part 1)

By Marlena De Lacroix 

I have to admit I was very suspicious.  Not more than two weeks after its new head writer Ron Carlivati’s debut, a soap reporter from the northern climes  proclaimed One Life to Live the best soap of the year.  As a veteran soap critic, I’ve always felt you had to watch a soap a couple of months at least before you declare a soap has improved and a watch about a year of it to deem it the “best.”

[Read more...]