Big Changes at Marlena and Five More Passover Questions

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

We’ve made some changes here at marlenadelacroix.com in an effort to upgrade our service to you, our Thinking Fans. We’ve added a search box, all the better to help you locate what we’re had to say in the past about your favorite soaps and their characters, casts and storylines. And we’re added list of links to our fellow soap opera sites and others we think may interest you, a list that is likely to grow. There’s more to come, as this site continues to evolve. As you know, darlings, Marlena has been and always will be all about you, the soap fans and faithful readers loves ever do dearly.  It makes my day to get your comments to this column. We’re here to serve you, always!

Toujours l’amour!

Five More Passover Questions

1.  Remember Jewish Jake Meyer (Sam Behrens) the lawyer on General Hospital? Adored him! Happy Passover and Happy Easter! Wasn’t Behrens great with Jackie Zeman (Bobbie Spencer)?

Jackie Zeman, 39 years and counting!

Isn’t Zeman being her usual timeless self in the Luke/Fluke story?  Thirty-nine years in soaps!  She was a sensation in her soap premiere role Lana McClain on One Life to Live in 1976, and, after all these sensational years, she’s a soap icon today.

2.  Speaking of, how much do we all miss OLTL and my fave soap of all time, All My Children? Viva forever Agnes Nixon, their creator and the greatest writer of all time, along with her mentor Irna Phillips, the mother of daytime soap opera. Miss my Agnes, who is 88 now. She is a mother to us all!  Those soaps we miss so sorely were her children, you know! In addition to her four real children and numerous grandchildren.

3.  Two four six eight, who do we appreciate? Two time Emmy winner Maura West (Ava Jerome, GH; ex Carly Manning, As the World Turns)! She deserves this year’s and next year’s Emmys for her work as Ava. I like her better than her Carly, and Carly was immortal.  Of course Ava, who was given a terminal cancer prognosis by Dr. Silas Clay (Michael Easton) is going to live.

4.  Didn’t the ever handsome (those dimples!) and sublimely talented Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos GH, also a Emmy winner) look like an impressionist painter with the beard? So glad he shaved it this week!

5.  Who isn’t sick of GH’s amnesiac Jake Doe/Jason Quartermaine? I certainly am! He’s on every day, and stays, and stays, and stays. Even the superb Emmy winner Billy Miller (ex-Billy Abbot, The Young and the Restless) who plays him can’t keep this interesting. At this point, I just don’t care whether or not he is with Elizabeth Webber (Rebecca Herbst)!

General Hospital: The Ginormous Furor over Fluke

Is it Luke or Fluke? (Photo: michaelfairmansoaps.com)

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

In many, many years, there hasn’t been a soap controversy of the magnitude of the furor over the year-old  “Fluke” storyline on General Hospital. While some love  it (I gave it a rave in two prior columns,  but more on that later) many really hate it.  Just look at all the negative remarks about the story on Facebook, on soap site message boards, and in the responses to my last two GH columns. (They are “Divine Soaps Plots Make GH Must See TV, Parts 1 and 2,” which ran respectively here on February 1st  and 5th.)

Viewers are sounding off that the Fluke storyline is too cartoonish, has many inconsistencies, doesn’t grow from who Luke really is., has gone on way too long, isn’t our beloved GH and on and on and on, a million other complaints. Everyone is talking about the Fluke storyline.  I even spent a full two hours last week over brunch discussing the Fluke story with my always brilliantly spoken GH fan friend  pjs, who has watched GH since its inception in 1963. The waiter gave us a really quizzical look!

As for me, I’m a bit embarrassed. Marlena believes it is her job as a critic to criticize soaps that are not character-oriented, have inconsistencies, and have characters that act out of character.  Despite its problems, I loved the story because of the continuing suspense and Tony Geary’s bravura acting.
Because of those strong elements, I was and still am entertained by the Fluke story, and have been able to forgive all the story’s transgressions.  But for how much longer will I be so charmed?

For the first time this week, I felt  tired, no longer  having the patience to  wait for the reveal of who Fluke really is when Luke, behind bars for the setting up the boat explosion (that didn’t happen) declared he was the real Luke Spencer. (Fingerprints were found – supposedly — confirming this.)

Plus, I am really confused. How could the  Luke Spencer  I’ve watched since 1980 do so many  awful  criminal things,  among them trying  to  control people (like Jake and Ava) into killing other people, committing  actual  murder himself? And endangering the lives of people the real Luke loves (his closest relatives Bobbie, Lulu and Tracy, not to mention all the other innocent passengers) by having Jake plant the bomb in the boat?  Does Luke have DID, a gimmick story most famously used on One Life to Live with the character of Victoria Lord in the 90s?  (She exhibited six personalities including that of Viki and Niki, her “split personalities”  who were periodically seen earlier on OLTL over the years.) Or, besides DID — if he has it — is there another explanation for who “Luke” really, really is?

I’ve read on message boards and heard rumors that the Fluke story is yet to continue in the next few months with Luke’s past played out, explaining the roots of his possible DID. The reliable ABC Soaps in Depth magazine reported today that  two  actors are being cast to play young Luke and Bobbie and shared that the show is looking for an actress in her late 60s who has  had a hard life. Will she be cast as    Patricia Spencer, the sister  who Bobbie  and Luke talked about only once many years ago in GH history prior to the Fluke story and has never been seen before?   Was Patricia in her younger years involved in the cause of Luke’s possible DID?

So, chers lecteurs, where is this Fluke/Luke story going?  Only those in the GH inner sanctum know for sure.  Although I have a few regrets, I’ll still be watching the story as it progresses because, despite everyone’s complaints,  I am still intrigued by it  Are you?  Will you keep watching?         

Divine Suspense Plots on General Hospital, Currently Must See TV — Part 2

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

Maurice Benard

I’ve said some negative things about General Hospital headwriter Ron Carlivati (particularly when he was writing One Life to Live) but in the last few months he has proven he knows well how to write soap opera.   As discussed last week in my rave over the “Fluke” storyline, he knows how to interweave plots and has been a master of creating suspense.  Let’s examine how Carlivati  has used or is using the element of suspense in other plots.

Sonny, Julian, Ava and Franco were all in jail: Sonny for the murder of A.J., Ava for the murder of Connie, Julian hiding out in jail from Fluke falsely confessing to the murder of Anthony Zaccara, and  Franco for the kidnapping of Avery, Ava’s newborn baby. Would they break out?  They did and got into a car accident.  Will they live or die?  Fluke sent Carlos and Johnny to kill them. Will they succeed?  Johnny didn’t succeed in shooting Sonny and shot and got shot by Julian.  Will Johnny survive his gun shot?   Johnny was injured and wandered off.  Where was he going?  And will he return to the show?

Carlos was sent to shoot Ava and shot her in the arm.    She fell off a bridge but lost her grip, at first hanging on a handrail but fell when Sonny tried to save her.   Will she be found?  Will she live or die?  Also, is Maura West, the best actress on the show (and arguably one of the best in daytime history, having played Carly on As the World Turns) coming back or leaving the show, as rumored?  I hope she stays because her performances are always excellent and Ava is a fascinating character.

Nathan and Michael stopped a bomb planted  in a party on the Haunted Star  by Jake on Fluke’s order just in time before it went off.   An escaped Sonny grabbed the bomb from Michael and dove into the water and it went off.  Is Sonny alive and will he be found?   Will this act of heroism exonerate him for his murder and will he stay out of jail?   There’s not much to GH   when major star Maurice Benard’s master criminal Sonny is yet again behind bars!

Amnesiac  Jake, who is really Jason but dosen’t know it, realized he is under the mind control of Helena Cassidine, who forced him to hold Sam hostage, but failed in trying to murder her and planted  the bomb on the Haunted Star.  Would he remember doing all this?  He did remember  Sam stealing a Chinese figurine Jason had given her which was found on Jason’s body.  Will Jake get his full memory back and realize he is Jason?  Will Sam figure out Jake is Jason, and what will this do to her?  How will this affect her new romance with Patrick?

Franco, who had a gun, also escaped the car crash but headed over to Shadybrook mental institution  where his mother Heather was about to inject Franco’s friend and lady love Nina with a syringe full of LSD.  Can Franco stop Heather and rescue Nina?  He did, but for some reason injected himself with the LSD.  Will Franco survive his LSD trip?  Franco and Nina kissed.   Will they have a big romance?

Questions, questions, questions!  Finding the answers compels moi to keep tuning in for fun, and not just duty. GH has certainly been divine when it comes to suspense lately!  

No One is in Jail on Nashville, a Great Nighttime Soap

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

Connie Britton (left) and Hayden Panettiere in Nashville

What’s to write about?   Everyone on General Hospital is in jail, or should be. Sonny has finally been arrested for the murder of A.J. Quartermaine. Carly and Duke are there, too, for helping Sonny cover up the killing.  Heather is in jail and presumably will be transported back to Ferncliff.  Franco and Nina aren’t in jail, but should be for kidnapping Ava’s baby.   And so should Ava, for the long ago murder of Connie.

So this week, let’s go somewhere new. Do you watch Nashville on ABC? It’s my favorite nighttime soap, and I’ll bet a lot of daytime soap fans agree.

Nashville is everything a daytime soap producer might imagine in his/her wildest dreams. For openers,   it’s a superlative job of world-building, capturing as it does with such impeccable authenticity the world of today’s Nashville, Tennessee – a thoroughly modern metropolis of the New South that also occupies a fabled position in our popular culture as the home of our uniquely American country music industry.

It’s not entirely fair, of course, to compare this weekly primetime juggernaut, with its audience of nine million and per episode budget of $4 million, with daytime soap opera’s five-days-per week worlds-without-end marathon. But it’s not the glitz and glamor and the fabulous music that make Nashville so compelling. It’s the series’ old-fashioned heart and soul of family drama – intersecting stories of love gained and lost, striving broken spirits who cry out and sometimes lash out in pain, and ambition both triumphant and failed, all at the confluence of family and fame.

Behind it all is the flow of creativity that all the characters share, the desire to make music that is their own. This becomes a struggle that infuses all the story lines, a battle between artistic honesty and fakery that is not unlike life itself.

Nashville is built around the world of Rayna Jaymes, a storied country superstar whose career is on down the line, as they say, at the point where she needs and wants to take charge. She does so by launching her own record label, the demands of which clash painfully with her other lives, as mother, wife and conflicted lover. Connie Britton plays her so truthfully, we can easily believe there is a real Rayna, right up there with Tammy and Loretta and Reba.

Rayna is divorced from Nashville’s slick mayor Teddy (Eric Close), engaged to fellow country superstar Luke Wheeler (the equally believable Will Chase), yet continually crossing paths with the man who surely will always be the love of her life, the alcoholic fabled guitarist/songwriter Deacon Claybourne, played by Charles Esten, who surely is the most attractive man on television.  Rayna and Deacon were lovers long ago and even have a daughter out of wedlock.  They have tried to rekindle their love on several occasions, but it’s just not right. I admire greatly that these characters are all truly adults, trying to honor their choices and do the right thing for their families and children. And all without saccharine.

Nashville’s parallel story line follows the fortunes of Juliette Barnes, one super self-centered hellion of a country/pop upstart from hardscrabble roots who launches herself as Rayna’s competition, becomes her nemesis, then her partner, then the object of public scorn. She’s played brilliantly by daytime alum Hayden Panettiere, who grew up on soaps on Guiding Light and One Life to Live.

Panettiere may be the bravest woman ever on television or in film. Rene Zellwegger deserved the kudos she earned for gaining weight for the title role in Bridget Jones Diary, and Panettiere goes her one better. In real life, Panettiere really is pregnant and has gained the usual pounds. Her Juliette is pregnant, too, proudly looking the part without either slimming camera tricks or insulting fat suit. A real woman playing a real woman. How refreshing.

There’s a whole bushel of intersecting secondary stories, each populated by superb acting talent to die for. These include Jonathan Jackson as aspiring songwriter Avery Barkley, father of Juliet’s baby. (You may recognize him from GH, where he grew up playing Lucky Spencer.)  Wonderful, too, are Clare Bowen as Deacon’s talented songwriter niece Scarlett, Sam Palladio as her ex Gunnar Scott, one time songwriting partner who belatedly learns he has a six year old son, and Chris Carmack as Will Lexington, a closeted country hunk who has made it big and is terrified he’ll be found out. What unites them is the steady stream of their soul-revealing music.

All of this is the work of Callie Khouri, who brought smart, flawed and therefore true-life women to the big screen in Thelma and Louise, now a classic. There’s nary a misstep in her Nashville, not a single thing I would change, not a moment when I want to look away from the screen. That is remarkable for such a broad and complex canvas. But Nashville doesn’t feel complex. Its storylines flow together like the lyrics of a country story song.

If you haven’t been tuning in – which I doubt – catch up somehow. You’ll be glad you did.

Daytime’s Most Famous “Love to Hate” Characters

By Marlena Delacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Eric Braeden as Victor Newman: Still Machiavellian after all these years

For any soap opera, a “love to hate” character is money in the bank.  Fascinated by their endless power to manipulate other characters and instigate interesting plots, these diabolical characters are adored by audiences who avidly follow all that they do. 

“Love to hate” characters dot soap opera history and frequently have long lives.  One of the first “love to hate” females was Lisa on As the World Turns, played by Eileen Fulton. Lisa drove her husband Bob and other ATWT characters crazy for decades.  On Another World, the original Rachel, played by Robin Strasser, was a “love to hate” character who evolved into a heroine, subsequently played by Victoria Wyndham. Stasser went on to play another and more famous “love to hate” character, Dorian Lord, on One Life to Live for decades.  Another iconic “love to hate” character, All My Children’s Erica Kane, made famous by Susan Lucci, quickly became the heroine of her show and was beloved for four decades as she stirred up trouble for generations of characters in Pine Valley.

“Love to hate” characters are usually played by women, but there have been some notable exceptions.  On AMC, James Mitchell’s Palmer Cortlandt caused trouble for his daughter Nina for years.   On TheYoung and the Restless, Eric Braeden’s conniving Victor Newman has been the catalyst of many twisted plots for 30 years. And he’s still going strong,mastermindinglots of problems for his children Adam, Nick and Victoria, and causing his wife Nikki to leave him over and over again. (They recently reconciled after Nikki forgave him for hiring a Cassie lookalike to frighten Sharon. But does anyone believe Victor is properly repentant and will change his Machiavellian ways? )

Right now, there are two “love to hate” characters on soaps who are relatively new and fascinating:

Spunky Quinn Fuller (Rena Sofer) came to The Bold and the Beautiful’s Forrester Creations as a jewelry designer along with her illegitimate son Wyatt.  Since arriving Quinn will do anything to help Wyatt win over the love of Hope Logan, including threatening and torturing Wyatt’s brother Liam, who is also in love with Hope.  This week Quinn even threatened to kill both Wyatt and Hope.  Quinn is so delicious as a “love to hate” character, she’s sure to be with us for a long time.

And on General Hospital, Nina Clay, as played  by Michelle Stafford (who originated and played another “love to hate” character Phyllis Summers Newman on The Young and Restless) has turned out to be a real terror since she came to Port Charles to bust up the romance of her husband Silas and Sam Morgan.  She has even resorted to faking paralysis to get her husband to feel sorry for her and stay with her. In interviews, Stafford has stated that Nina is a sociopath – great news for connoisseurs of “love to hate” characters.   She certainly has a long future ahead as a troublemaker on GH.

So, do you have a favorite baddie, past or present? Please share.

The 2014 Daytime Emmys: A Pleasant Evening Online

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

Amelia Heinle, Best Supporting Actress

This year’s Daytime Emmys – for the first time, streamed live  online but not televised — they turned out to be relatively painless.  Without commercials, the show flowed nicely, and was capably produced. Hostess Kathy Griffin was funny and full of salt and vinegar as always. The absence of television cameras did not discourage the celebrities and glitterati of the daytime world from showing up, including everyone from legendary  game show host Monty Hall to plenty of nominees plus Best Show presenter Donna Mills, who entered to the theme from Knots Landing.

The big winner was The Young and the Restless, which won for Best Show.   A win for Best Writing (picked up by Shelly Altman) set the tone for Y&R’s winning night. Amelia Heinle (Victoria) won for Best Supporting Actress.  Billy Miller, who had the storyline of the year with his character Billy’s daughter’s death in an automobile accident, won Best Actor.  Hunter King (who plays Summer) won for starring in a storyline which centered on the identity of her biological father.  A most pleasant win was for Special Episode in which the late Jeanne Cooper, who played Katherine for decades, was honored posthumously. Executive  Producer Jill Farren Phelps gave a very gracious acceptance speech. She attempted to give another for Y&R ’s win as Best Show, but was interrupted by Griffin, who was hurriedly trying to close the webcast.

It was a very good year, too, for Days of Our Lives which won Best Younger Actor for Chandler Massey (ex-Will) and Best Supporting Actor for Eric Martsolf (Brady). Martsolf heartily thanked co-star Eileen Davidson, who won for Best Actress.  She kiddingly thanked frequent winner and fellow nominee  Heather Tom (Katie, The Bold and the Beautiful) for “sharing” the award.  Davidson finally got the award she deserves for creating the iconic daytime character Kristen DiMera.

There were echoes of cancelled soaps: One Life to Live won Best Direction. Venice, an online soap, won for Best Limited Series soap. The statuette was picked up by one of its stars, an emotional Crystal Chappell.

The Red Carpet Show was thorough, interviewing everyone from soap stars to soap bloggers, but marred somewhat by the flat jokes of inexperienced nonsoap hostesses.

But all in all, the Daytime Emmys 2014, the first to be streamed online, weren’t bad at all.   As a matter of fact, they deserved to be televised.  

Daytime Emmy Nominations – Marlena Still Cares

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

The Daytime Emmy nominations for 2014 have been announced. Do you care?  After all these years, Marlena still does. So let’s discuss:

Best Actor:  Aside from Jason Thompson (Patrick, General Hospital) the other four nominees all come from The Young and the Restless:  Peter Bergman (Jack), Doug Davidson (Paul), Christian LeBlanc (Michael) and Billy Miller (ex-Billy.)  Miller, who performed with great strength in the storyline in which Billy’s daughter Delia was run over by a car, should be the winner.  Oddly enough, Michael Muhney, who so masterfully played guilt-filled Adam, who ran over Delia, was not even nominated.  (Muhney has since left the show.)

Best Actress:  Eileen Davidson (Kristen, Days of Our Lives) by all accounts had a particularly good year, and she is the favorite in this category.   Also nominated from Days was Arianne Zucker (Nicole).  Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke, The Bold and the Beautiful), who had her big scenes the year before when Stephanie died, was also nominated.  But never underestimate Heather Tom, whose teary Katie on B&B had a stellar year as her character survived her husband Bill’s infidelity with Brooke.  Tom has won the statuette five times before.

Best Supporting Actress:   Y&R’s Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe) and Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea) had great years as Chloe’s daughter Delia was killed by a drunk driver.  Also nominated from Y&R  as the so-so Amelia Heinle (Victoria).  Kelly Sullivan, whose Connie was murdered on GH also had a very emotional  year.  But the best of this worthy slate is Jane Elliot (Tracy, GH ), who  virtually steals the show in every scene she’s in, and should be the big winner here.

Best Supporting Actor:  Nominees in this category include Steve Burton (Dylan, Y&R), Scott Clifton (Liam, B&B), Dominic Zamprogna (Dante, GH) and Eric Martsolf (Brady, Days). But Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, GH), who had tear-filled scenes as baby Connie’s biological daddy before departing for Portlandia, deserves the win in this category.

Best Younger Actress:  This category is a toss-up.  Nominated are Kristen Alderson (Kiki, GH), Linsey Godfrey (Caroline, B&B), Hunter King (Summer,Y&R), Kim Matula (Hope, B&B) and Kelley Missal (Danielle, One Life to Live).  Each is eminently watchable and has much to recommend her.

Best Young Actor: Another category where there is no clear winner among the deserving nominees.  Nominated are Bryan Craig (Morgan, GH), Chad Duell (Michael, GH), Max Ehrich (Fenmore, Y&R), Chandler Massey (ex-Will, Days) and Daniel Polo (Jamie, Y&R).

Best Show:  Incredibly, GH, which had a relatively good year, was not even nominated.  On the list are the cancelled One Life to Live; Days (which won the Emmy last year) and Y&R. But clearly the winner, à mon avis, should be the excellent B&B, which had a year with virtually no bad storylines.

The Daytime Emmys will be awarded on June 22nd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  So far, no network has signed up to televise them, which is quite a statement on the state of daytime. They have been televised since 1974—but apparently won’t be this year as of yet.

Ridge Forrester: Master of B&B’s Universe

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

Thorsten Kaye, the new Ridge

Every soap opera needs a leading man.   But perhaps because Ridge Forrester seems to have been at the center of most plots since The Bold and the Beautiful debuted more than 25 years ago, he seems more like a Master of the Universe than just a plain leading man.

Born handsome and rich, the son of Eric and Stephanie Forrester (Massimo Marone, an old lover of Stephanie’s, is Ridge’s biological father)  Ridge has always had everything he wanted.  His father Eric is head of Forrester Creations, a leading couture house, and he himself is the fashion house’s leading designer.

Ridge’s problem has always been women.  Is it just because he is so attractive?  It seems that he’s always involved with two women at a time, whether it’s Valley Girl Brooke and the late Caroline Spencer (his late first wife) or Brooke and Taylor, another wife of his. Taylor, a beautiful psychiatrist, seemed to at least understand Ridge.  His attraction to Brooke, to whom he has been married three times, seems more physical, and the two certainly have had quite the tumultuous romance over the years.

Ridge was played by Ronn Moss from the role’s inception to 2012, when Moss suddenly left.  Ridge and Brooke broke up over the thinnest of pretexts (Ridge found a text message from Brooke’s former lover Deacon) and Ridge went to live in Paris. During that year, Stephanie suffered from cancer, and later died of the disease.  Ridge, a huge momma’s boy, didn’t even return for his mother’s funeral.

When Ridge did return at the end of last year, he was played by Englishman Thorsten Kaye, a fan favorite from his days on One Life to Live and All My Children. Kaye is of course a very different kind of actor from Moss, who seemed to own the role. Kaye’s Ridge is more introspective, but with his own Continental style delivers a Ridge who is just as much the self-absorbed, immature jerk he’s always been. And as always, Kaye is a treat to watch.  

Thus when the new Ridge returned, he seemed to be the perfect man, suddenly very soft and tender, especially sympathetic toward Brooke’s sister Katie.  Katie’s husband Bill had fallen in love with and run off with Brooke.  Bill and Ridge hate one another. Ridge seemed to be Katie’s knight in shining armor and the two made off together, even after Ridge initially almost married Brooke.  Right now, the two are having an idyllic romance and indeed Kaye and Heather Tom, who plays Katie, are probably the best acted couple in soapdom.

So it was a brilliant stroke when B&B shattered the image of the new perfect Ridge and had him make some moves at Forrester Creations that showed how arrogant and spoiled he could be.  He tried to have photographer Oliver fired and brother Rick ousted from his position as president of the company.  Both moves failed.

Eric offered him the presidency of the company should he and Katie break up.  But arrogant and wanting his way as always, Ridge refused.  Will Ridge Forrester be able to keep his new love Katie, and continue to have it all as B&B’s Master of the Universe?     

Y&R Tries Some Suspense for Sweeps

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

Tristan Rogers still has the old charm as Colin.

We’ve written several times that the biggest challenge to changing The Young and the Restless is it’s static  writing template, which has been in effect back to the days of co- creator/headwriter Bill Bell.  The show is all about slow storytelling, dragging the storylines out and instead exploring character.

Recently, the show underwent a headwriting change, with Jeanne Passanante and Shelley Altman (most recently of One Life to Live) taking over.  Whether it was by design or perhaps a sweeps month stunt, Passanante and Altman successfully picked up the show’s quality this month by careful use of the element of suspense.

The backdrop was the Delia Project Benefit, which honored the late little girl who was run over by Adam.  Strangely, Adam’s widow Chelsea attended, to prove she was not her criminal husband.  But even more strangely, the attendees at the benefit (which included everyone in town except Niki) were held hostage as a doll to be auctioned off accidentally broke open, spilling a cache of diamonds all over the ballroom floor.   An ex-con character called Womack held everyone at gunpoint.

The writers used suspense in many different ways to keep the scene exciting. A dazed Billy broke down and admitted, in front of his wife Victoria and the whole town, that he had slept with Kelly.  Would Victoria reject Billy on the spot?  Most humanely, Victoria ignored the admission, chose to stay with her ill husband and accompany him to the hospital.

Womack didn’t give up when the police arrived.  He decided to keep Cain and Lilly, the most boring couple on soap operas, as his sole hostages.  Would Womack kill Lily?  It suddenly made the couple infinitely more interesting. Finally, Womack shot Cain, just grazing him.  Cain’s father Colin stepped out of the shadows with a gun to capture Womack, with whom, it turned out, he was in cahoots all along to steal the doll.

The suspense involved in this sweeps stunt did a lot to keep this week’s worth of Y&R episodes exciting. The use of suspense might be a good tool in upgrading the show’s writing in the future.  It also did a lot to showcase the show’s two newest actors, both returnees.  Tristan Rogers showed he still has the old charm as Colin.  And David Tom has blended in very naturally and very nicely in his old role of Billy.  

Happy New Year: Looking Ahead to 2014

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

Thorsten Kaye: Will he still amaze in 2014?

The new year starts Wednesday, and I have many questions about what’s going to happen on our favorite shows next year. See if you might speculate on the answers, or pose some questions of your own:

1.  How is The Young and the Restless going to fill the terrible holes left by the departures of super talented Billy Miller (Billy) and Michael Muhney (Adam)?   Surely both roles will be recast.

2.  How are General Hospital ’s Patrick and Robin going to react to Sabrina being pregnant with Patrick’s child?  Quite the sticky situation.

3.  When will The Bold and the Beautiful’s Quinn and Donna have the down and dirty catfight they have been leading up to for months?  Both seem to want Eric’s love enough to draw blood to get it.

4.  On Y&R, will Jill ever find out the significance of the music box Katherine left her?

5.  On GH, will A.J. ever find out that he’s clear of Connie’s murder?  And did Ava really do it?

6.  On B&B, will Thorsten Kaye be able to sustain the tremendous acting success he’s already scored on his first few weeks of B&B? My guess, no surprise, is a resounding “Yes!”

7.  Will Spinelli ever come back to GH? Maybe he could return from Portlandia flush with New Age inspiration and open a boutique coffee bar/microbrewery to compete with Kelly’s?

8.  On Y&R, will Dylan ever accept Nikki as his mother? How long will it be until Nikki conquers her biological son’s heart?

9. On B&B, wouldn’t it be neat if Hope rejected both Liam and Wyatt and found herself a new love this year?

10. Sadly, in 2013 we witnessed the faltering of soap opera’s first great digital experiment. All My Children and One Life to Live are gone again, at least for now. Will 2014 bring us any new soaps? As ever; we won’t give up hope.

Moose, Nigel and I join together in wishing you a Happy New Year!