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.

The Young and the Restless’ Record-Breaking Stunt

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

Yet again … is it right or wrong for a soap to kill off a child?  I led a column with this perennial question several weeks ago when Delia Abbott was killed on The Young and the Restless, reiterating my longstanding opposition to what I regard as a creepy plot device that exploits the worst nightmare of mothers everywhere, many of whom historically form the backbone of soap viewership.

Billy Miller: His Billy carries a crushing burden of guilt

But that’s just me, and as it turns out lots of viewers disagree. There was a tremendous response to the column:  a spike of several thousand hits above the norm here at Marlena De Lacroix:  Soaps for the Thinking Fan, plus almost a hundred letters, breaking at about half pro and half con.  Y&R earned the biggest prize of all: close to a record five million viewers for this most controversial storyline of the year.

It’s hard to argue with such success, so I’ll concede this much: if Y&R had to do this story, at least they did a fine job of it. The writing, acting and production all were first rate. The death of Delia touched almost every character on the canvas. As the grieving mother Chloe, Elizabeth Hendrickson brought tears to the eyes. The grief of the father, Billy (Billy Miller) was made worse by his knowledge that, just prior to the accident,  he had left the child in the car when he went into a store to get some ice cream.  Any parent could relate to his crushing feelings of guilt, expressed so movingly in his later scenes with his hysterical mother Jill (Jess Walton).

The death of Delia brought the leading Abbott family together. Jack and his sisters Ashley (Eileen Davidson) and Tracy (Beth Maitland) came to town. Ashley brought muffins for a scene Y&R watchers have grown to love as tradition:  the Abbott family breakfast.  Jack (Peter Berman) was shown to be the new head of the family, a fact that was remarked upon by Jack’s dead father John (Jerry Douglas), who appeared only to Jack.  The warmth of the family gathering went a long way to assuage the pain of Delia’s death, although the pain will never go away.

And there’s more. Also shown in a great deal of pain was Adam Newman (Michael Muhney), the man who apparently (and up until now secretly) ran over Delia.  He kept this knowledge to himself, even after parts of Delia’s eyes were successfully transplanted to Adam’s newborn, almost blind son, per Chloe and Billy’s permission. Adam hasn’t even been able to enjoy the success of this operation.  All along he has been debating confessing his guilt. This week he may even do so.

Will Adam Newman ever be happy?   Here’s a question that has haunted the character ever since he came to town as the son of Victor and the blind and deceased Hope several years ago.   First he loved and lost Sharon (Sharon Case). Then he loved and lost his wife Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan).   Now he may go to jail for a decade and miss his son’s growing up years. Adam Newman’s life is perpetually a tragedy. Not as great as the death of Delia, but certainly a story that is ongoing for the recent run of Y&R.  The soulful Michael Muhney has his work cut out for him. Happily for the viewers, he seems to be up to the challenge.    

The Young and the Restless’ Big Baby Reveal: Well Worth Waiting For

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

The Young and the Restless may be the best soap when it comes to dragging out its storylines.  Because this week, it was more than worth than nine month wait when it was explosively revealed to Dylan MacAvoy  that Chelsea’s newborn baby Connor isn’t really his, but the child of Chelsea’s ex-husband Adam Newman.  As you know, baby Connor is experiencing signs of retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease Adam himself inherited from his blind mother. 

Steve Burton’s Dylan: The baby he loves so much isn’t really his

In addition to the suspense, what made the storyline high point worth waiting for was the performances.  As Chelsea the lifelong con woman, Melissa Claire Egan always sustains a nice element of hysteria, and that worked well in the revelation scenes.  But it was Steve Burton as Dylan who stole the show with Dylan’s tearful and very sensitive reaction to the news, as his character loves what he believed to be his baby very much.   Dylan had even married Chelsea and made a whole new life with her believing he had fathered Connor.   He even bought Genoa City’s coffee house Crimson Lights to support the family.

As evidenced here, Burton has improved greatly as an actor since the days when he played Jason Quartermaine Morgan on General Hospital.  As Dylan, he has found layers in his character, who has always been a guy almost too good to be true since his introduction last year.  Now Burton has many opportunities to add more shades of gray to Dylan, a hero in the war in Afghanistan. This will be challenging if the spoilers are correct – they say he’ll go against character type by kidnapping baby Connor from his mother.

Of course, Michael Muhney who plays Adam was great as always in the scenes in which Adam  found out that baby Connor is his son.  Now in what will become a continuing storyline situation, he has threatened to take Connor away from the baby’s mother.  Muhney is so terrific at being mean, this is a storyline worth looking forward to.

And what do you think of the spoilers/rumors that Dylan is really the long lost son Nikki gave birth to as a teen and gave away?  The ages here don’t really match up — Steven Burton is too old to be Melody Thomas Scott’s son.  But as Dylan has no relatives as is in Genoa City, this would tie him into the main Newman family, making him Nick and Victoria’s brother and Victor’s stepson.

What didn’t work for me was having Avery, Dylan’s ex,  be late to her own cancelled wedding to Nick so she could listen to Dylan’s anguish at finding out the baby isn’t his.  What real life bride would be late to her own wedding?   As we’ve said in the past, Avery is also too good to be true, and this time she was tripped up by her own good nature.  Will Avery and Dylan wind up getting back together?  Will Avery ever marry Nick?  The baby reveal certainly has launched many good future storylines for Y&R.     

Merry Christmas, Baby, from Marlena!

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

Michelle Stafford

The Young and the Restless: I’m always looking for improvements under the new regime at The Young and the Restless.  One of the show’s former problems was loading heroines with too many problems, and I think the current writers have done a nice job these last few weeks in giving Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) a bit of rest.  In other words, instead of being called upon to carry on as the ever screaming, jealous wife, adulteress and murder suspect, she’s allowed us to be reminded of the kind of person she really is.

She’s not particularly man-crazy at the moment but showing some independence in the wake of the disappearance of her lover Ronan. Her new work at Newman shows her to be the intelligent and top professional woman she used to be. Her great compassion and support for pill-addict boss/ex-husband/good friend Jack has brought out her natural humanity.  Continuing to reach out to her wayward daughter Summer with great love, she’s let us see what a great and determined mother she is. I even notice she stopped wearing her usually slutty clothes.  Altogether, Phyllis is less of a headache, again a smart, convivial gal you’d like to actually know.

Although I don’t like Y&R‘s teen cyberbullying story, it certainly makes much  better use of fireball Emmy winners Christian LeBlanc and Tracey E. Bregman, whose marriage as Fen’s parents Michael and Lauren has been too happy for too long. Giving happy couples problems certainly worked with Adam and Chelsea, and certainly gives better acting opportunities to super actors Michael Mulney and Melissa Claire Egan.

I’m not a big fan of crabby Abby Newman, but I’m glad Marcy Rylan, who plays her so engagingly, is rejoining the show. The young character’s obnoxiousness is a spark the show surely needs.

But what I’m most excited about is the imminent arrival of Mark Pinter as politician Marcus Wheeler.  Pinter, of course, was brilliant as the Shakespearean villain Grant Harrison on Another World.   He’s the kind of powerful actor who can make waves for those corporate sharks Jack and Victor, played by the formidable actors Peter Bergman and Eric Braeden. Uh oh …do you think they’ll get Marcus mixed up with … Phyllis?

General Hospital:  I really like Felix (Marc Samuel), the new character on GH.  Felix is very, very, very smart.  Didn’t he make student nurse Sabrina do weeks of extra bedpan duty in exchange for an introduction to his cosmetics boss Lucy Coe? Of course it turned out Felix had never met Lucy, but Felix can talk himself into anything. GH is a show that needs humor, and Felix and his funny remarks certainly brighten scenes.  Anyone who calls that bitch Britt “Dr. Miss Thing” is certainly okay by Marlena!

By the way, Marlena, Moose and Nigel wish you all a Merry Christmas.  Getting read by you and receiving your wonderful comments are year-round Christmas presents for moi. Joyeux  Noel!  Buon Natale!

Sunday Reflections 15: Presto Chango — How the New Production and Writing Regime Reshaped Y&R in Only One Week

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

If you are a soap opera watcher who loves the soap opera behind the soap opera (as I think most Thinking Fans are), this was a tremendous week for watching The Young and the Restless.  The show’s new head writer Josh  Griffith and new new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps  made the fastest changes I’ve ever seen in Week One of a new regime.  The thing is: do you admire how efficient they were at making storyline fixes? Or as a fan who watches soaps just for the on-screen entertainment, were you confused or a bit annoyed by the sudden radical changes? To wit: 

– In the presto chango department, the instant dismissal — in one episode – of the long anticipated trial of Phyllis for attempting to run over The Bug and Paul 20 years ago by a new judge (the old one had suddenly taken sick) was the craftiest (in a good way) soap opera writing [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with All My Children’s Melissa Claire Egan

By Damon L. Jacobs

When I interviewed Melissa Claire Egan (Annie Novak Lavery on All My Children) on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” all I kept thinking was, “courage.”  This young woman has the courage to reach inside herself and expose the deepest parts of her soul every dayMelissa Claire Egan in front of her audience and in front of her peers.  She was even brave enough to stand up to the Soap Shrink and my issues with the portrayal of the psychiatric profession on her show!  Please read on to learn how she brings curiosity, depth, and humor to the role we’ve all come to love.

D:  It is such an honor to speak to you!  A few months back, I wrote a column about Annie and what she has been going through over this past year.  As a performer, what is it like for you to portray someone who is severely mentally ill?
M:  It’s been humbling, it’s been exciting, it’s been challenging.  As an actor it’s your ideal.  It’s your dream to be able play something that is difficult or out there.  Luckily the writers did a good job.  They didn’t just suddenly make Annie go crazy.  The way they did it they showed her loss — Ryan leaving her, Ryan falling in love with his ex-wife, Annie miscarrying.  They showed her transition into this craziness, which was helpful for me.  She slowly got worse and worse.  She felt threatened by Greenlee and she felt many things until it

“I’ve learned to believe in myself as an actor.  For any soap it’s such a hard job.  My boyfriend will come home and say, ‘We did six pages today,’ and I’ll say, ‘WE DID FORTY!’ With soaps it’s really easy to be bad, but really hard to be good.”

came into full chaos where she’s stabbing people and showing up delusional and thinking a party is her wedding day.  It’s been great to read a script and say, “How am I going to do this?”  When I read that script with the wedding day dress I said, “Oh no — this can either be ridiculous and laughable or you can watch and say ‘Shoot, she’s messed up, I feel bad for her.’”  A lot of the fan response has been [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: All My Children’s Annie Lavery

Thinking Fans Comment update: antmuoz doubts AMC will “actually tell a reality-based story with Annie. But if they did, it might be a daytime first in that it doesn’t involve cloning or demonic possession” … while Matthew objects to AMC’s “fear-based portrayal of Bedlam with outdated methods and near criminal activity” … and more. See Comments below. 

_________________________ 

By Damon L. Jacobs

2008 was a rough year for the residents of Pine Valley.  Murderers ran loose, tornadoes crashed through homes, but nothing or no one had an impact quite like hurricane Annie herself.

Annie Lavery (played by Melissa Claire Egan) first blew into Pine Valley in 2006, on the run with her infant daughter, Emma, from her first husband, Terry.  She was a force to be reckoned with, as she mistakenly shot Ryan (thinking he was Terry),proving to everyone she would do anything to hold on to  Emma.  Eventually she and Ryan fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever, because that’s what always happens on soaps, right?  

Only in Annie’s delusional mind it does!

In 2008 alone, Annie killed her brother Richie and her friend Di, almost killed Greenlee, stabbed Erica, faked Emma’s kidnapping, broke out of an insane asylum,

The Soap Shrink is sickened by the way Annie has been treated in The Oak Haven Institute, and is deeply concerned that this portrayal will scare viewers away from seeking mental therapy when they need it.

assaulted Ryan — and this doesn’t even include losing her marriage to Ryan, losing her unborn baby, losing [Read more...]

Marlena Says: Take Me Home to Pine Valley

All My Children

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 16:  James recalls shopping and dining in old Pine Valley … Kel agrees it’s too soon to judge the new headwriter … Brandon opines even bad Pine Valley circa 1997 beats today’s incarnation …and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

All My Children was always my favorite soap, from its premiere (1970) until the time Meggie McTavish made her disastrous, gimmick-filled  return (1996-97) and later when Ryan and the Fusion girls took over the show. Bimbos! I hated them — Kendall, Greenlee, etc., etc. — girls who were obsessed with make-up and wearing sundresses year-round, who giggled about men and acted like cats while they were pretending to work. 

Intelligent women with real hearts and authentic female wisdom had been what AMC specialized in until then (best example: Brooke). Like so many Thinking Fans, I used to love AMC for its humor, heart and real intelligence (three qualities which actually belong to its creator and longtime headwriter, Agnes Nixon.)  For the last decade, however, I’ve watched the dumbed [Read more...]

From Bad to Good or Good To Bad: Seven Soap Characters Who Changed Before Our Eyes

Melissa Claire Egan

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 9:  Sina nominates Maxie Jones … Greg would include Vanessa Chamberlain …  Aaron misses Annie Dutton … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Patrick Erwin

It’s been interesting to watch recent scenes with Melissa Claire Egan as Annie on All My Children. Once a good girl, Annie has turned into a manipulative witch. She may not be a nice person anymore, but Annie no longer comes off as a Greenlee-wannabe and is far more interesting to watch.
 
Most soap characters serve a purpose and stay in their designated slot: heroine, villain, rouge, or temptress. But every once in a while, a character will undergo a major metamorphosis and make a dramatic change, redeeming their wicked ways or shedding their goodness to get in touch with their inner bad seed.

Here are seven examples of characters who radically changed in front of our eyes.
 
1.  Annie Dutton, Guiding Light: Speaking of Annies, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this one. When she was [Read more...]