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! 

Four More Who Make My Day

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

Even when the plots of our soap operas drag or are otherwise unsatisfying, there are always actors who make our day.  I named some of my favorites here a while back. Now, here are some more, all on General Hospital:

Anders Hove: GH’s own bad grandpa (ABC Photo)

Anders Hove plays Faison, a classic villain who has been in and out of Port Charles going back to 1990.   He’s Danish and with his long hair and wrinkles is perhaps the most bedraggled looking character on all of daytime TV.  His visits usually have to do with his obsession with lady love Anna Devane and with his favorite diabolical undertaking, kidnapping.  This time he’s in town after revealing to Anna that her daughter Robin (who his bossy wife Dr. Obrecht abducted a year and a half ago) is still alive.

Hove’s latest visit is so much fun because we’re getting to see the domestic side of the Great Dane.  He’s continually in conflict with Dr. O, his quarrelsome spouse from hell (the outstanding Kathleen Gatti). The two fight like the old married couple that they are. This time he’s also fighting with evil daughter Britt (does the apple fall far from the tree?), who has introduced him to his “grandson” Ben, who is not biologically Britt’s son.  It’s hilarious to see this villain kiss his “baby.”  We hope Faison sticks around, even if at the moment he should still be in jail for impersonating Duke Lavery.

Finola Hughes

Finola Hughes is always a treat since her spy/police chief character Anna Devane  came to town in the 80s.  She is what soap women rarely are: career oriented and mature but still vulnerable and brimming with emotion.   Now she’s obsessed with finding her daughter Robin, who has thought dead for some time but is still alive.

The most interesting recent Hughes moment came with her impersonation of the vile Dr. O, who wore a mask impersonating Anna. She was an actress pretending to be a character pretending to be her character. Tricky stuff, and Hughes made it a jolly tour de force, complete Dr. O’s signature hauteur. Elsewhere, she played herself with equal charm in some marvelous scenes with Hove.

Bryan Craig. We’ve been very rough on Craig who plays Carly and Sonny’s son Morgan.  As Kiki’s husband, he was very weak.  However, since Morgan has hooked up with older woman Ava Jerome (the outstanding Maura West), Craig’s performances have gotten better. Perhaps working with the accomplished West buoyed him. Now he’s a lot more forceful.   Going forward, it should be interesting now that he’s discovered Ava’s brother Derek is really his father’s enemy, mob boss Julian Jerome.

Ilene Kristen. Here’s a big soap surprise. It seems that GH is incorporating the old soap Ryan’s Hope and Kristen’s character Delia Reid Ryan into its own storylines. Sam and Silas will go to the Upper West Side bar to find out if Delia is really the mother of Ava Jerome.  We can hardly wait to see Kristen (formerly Roxy on One Life to Live), who is always kooky and funny,  in her two appearances scheduled for  this week.

The Bold and the Beautiful’s Most Excellent Recast

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

Cheers to The Bold and the Beautiful for the most exciting soap recast of this or any other year: Soap superstar Thorsten Kaye has been signed to played Ridge Forrester, the show’s lead character, who was played from the show’s 1987 debut until last year by Ronn Moss.  Kaye, of course, played Patrick Thornhart on One Life to Live and Zack Slater on All My Children, and was last seen in primetime as Anjelica Huston’s shady but adorable boyfriend Nick on Smash

Thorsten Kaye: How will he change Ridge?

This bold recasting coup is so fascinating because Kaye and Moss are so different as actors. Both have the leading man’s requisite virility and good looks. But whereas Moss, with his legendary chiseled cheekbones, could have stepped off the cover of a romance novel, Kaye’s unshaven ruggedness is less generically handsome but much more down to earth.

Moss played Ridge, son of the Forrester dynasty of clothing designers, as a spoiled, mildly pompous rich kid.  He was always under the thumb of his domineering mother Stephanie, played by Susan Flannery, who has retired from the show.

Kaye, a classically trained theater actor, has a lot more range than the somewhat flat Moss. Kaye can play romantic, he can play tender, he can play tough and he has fabulous diction (as demonstrated by his Patrick’s many renditions of the poem “Brown Penny” on OLTL.)   He really is the quintessential soap leading man.

How will Kaye change Ridge? We hope the character will become more assertive, more nuanced and as a result more interesting.  The Ridge who has been residing in Paris for the last year will come back to find a changed scene in his hometown of Los Angeles. Ridge’s ex-wife Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) has become secretly engaged to Bill Spencer (Don Diamont), a married man and a significant force in his own right. We can hardly witness the inevitable clash between macho Diamont, all bedecked in his trademark bling, and the fiery Kaye.

Speaking of male roles on B&B

I have reached my limit and am fed up with that ultimate wuss Liam Spencer, as played by Scott Clifton.   Although he spends his life huffing and puffing and sanctimoniously trying to hang on to his now ex-fiancée Hope Logan (Kim Matula), at heart he really can’t commit to her.  Why else would he send a love montage email to his ex-wife Steffy?   He’s already left Hope at the altar and has kept her hanging on for years.  Now, Liam’s half-brother Wyatt (Darin Brooks) has fallen in love with Hope and has done everything to sweep her off her feet.  We can’t help rooting for Wyatt as Liam has become unbearable.  Wyatt at least has a clear allegiance to Hope, the only woman in his life.  No matter how much the now unattractive Liam  whines and carries on, he has no natural right to Hope’s love and affection

General Hospital Has Identity and Condiment Problems

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

The core of watching soap operas is to believe.  Unfortunately, General Hospital viewers had to put that value behind them this week when the show introduced new characters played by oh-so-familiar faces, all with new hair-dos to signify their new personae.  Michael Easton, who played John, is now playing Steven Clay’s brother Silas, who wears a pony tail.  With her hair naturally brunette, Kristin Alderson, who played Starr, is now playing Kiki. Superstar Roger Howarth, formerly known as the infamous Todd, now looks like a chic European supermodel in his dyed blond do, thus equipping him to play an oily character whose nefarious intentions are yet to be shared with the audience.

The GH producers had little choice but to recast the actors, when Prospect Park (the producers of the on-line All My Children and One Life to Live) prohibited them from using the actors as their former OLTL characters. I’m sure it was a hard choice.  They’re betting the loyalty of their audience on it. Will they lose viewers? Probably. Because belief is so fundamental to enjoying soap operas, I think GH will be on the losing end here.

The tricky situation won’t be as bad if the actors can manage to create new characters to go along with their new looks. This is a tall order – all three are strongly identified with their former screen selves. But they’re going to give it a go:  Easton – stuck as he is with his long face, dark gaze and trademark deep voice – is nonetheless trying to be someone new as Silas, the doctor brother of the dead serial killer Clay.  Howarth has used his new look to create someone who is very threatening and, at the same time, very intriguing. His name has yet to be revealed to the audience. Only Kristin Alderson appears not to be working very hard to make her Kiki substantially different from her Starr. Making the situation more confusing is the fact that Kiki is the poker playing girlfriend of Morgan. She used to be the girlfriend of his brother Michael, who at this point, must be very, very confused.

On The Chew: Mario Batali, Jane Ellliot and Michael Symon

However, GH did have a choice in doing a long sequence which promoted its ABC time slot on The Chew.  A. J. Quartermaine (the superbly charming Sean Kanan) pitted his Pickle-Lila formula vs. his aunt’s Tracy’s Pickle-Eddie in a condiment taste-off on air.  What followed was embarrassing mugging by The Chew cast (especially by chef Mario Batali) and even more hopeless overacting by the usually marvelous Jane Elliot, who plays Tracy. As you know the samples were poisoned (most probably by Roger Howarth’s new character) and Liz and Batali wound up in the hospital.

The whole sequence was too broad and over the top and reeked of the desperation of its own network-sponsored cross-promotion.   The story might have worked if so many episodes hadn’t been devoted to it.  In the end, we still don’t know which Pickle-Lila formula is actually better, and the ownership of ELQ is still in question.   Does Tracy own it or does A.J?  We can be reasonably sure we won’t find out any time soon. How much longer can we be expected to relish this interminable relish business?

All My Children and One Life to Live: A Triumphant Return!

 

Welcome back, One Life to Live

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

I’d like to congratulate Prospect Park and all the writers, crew, actors and producers involved for sensational online premieres of All My Children and One Life to Live.  Both came across as first class, with the sets, costumes and especially the actors looking just wonderful.  Here are soap episodes built not only to last, but to be an enduring success!

It was so thrilling to see Viki, Clint, Dorian, Brooke, Adam and Opal again. It’s incredible how many memories and emotions the actors who play these roles bring with them.  And although I had a bit of trouble distinguishing some of the teenagers on AMC from one another, it was great to see the young people of soaps again. OLTL, with its hot new club Shelter, in particular makes the most of the sex appeal of its younger generation by featuring them in dancing sequences.  It’s great to see such favorites as Cutter,  Blair, Destiny and Matthew again.   Melissa Archer’s Natalie is seen several times in her underwear. But this is cable, where sex sells.   There’s also a soupcon of profanity. But they want to make soaps au courant and I guess this is another obvious way to do it.

But what’s really encouraging about the new episodes of OLTL and AMC is that both of these premieres present soap opera in its classic form.  From the moment Petey drives into Llanview in his hot sports car to the conclusion of OLTL when Victor is shockingly seen alive in a hoody, we get soap straight up with all the conventions we love so much.  It was great to see Adam proposing to Brooke and Clint holding Viki’s hand — which had his ring on it.  It was even fun to watch “cougar” Blair try and pick up a young guy.-

I greatly appreciated the reunion between Blair and Todd.  All they had to do was look at one another.  But what I liked best were my two favorite older couples, Dorian and David and Bo and Nora.  Decades of romantic love stories involving these two come back to me by just looking at them.  And they’re all still together! What will happen?  We’ll just have to “tune” into our computers to find out!

Cliffhangers, young lovers, old friends and new storylines — you can’t ask for anything more. Cheers again to Prospect Park — and I’ll be watching!

So now it’s your turn, Cher Thinking Fans. What do you think of the new All My Children and One Life to Live?

And welcome, too, All My Children

 

Will a new era begin on Monday?

Monday’s the big day for the premieres of All My Children and One Life to Live on hulu.com.  As a fan of both for over 40 years, I can’t tell you how excited I am.  I’ll watch the new shows and report back that same night how I feel about them. I know all of you, my dear Thinking Fans, will be bursting with opinions, too.  And I can’t wait to hear them.  So let’s all meet back here Monday evening and start the conversation! – Love,  Marlena

General Hospital: All Hail the Nurses Ball — and ABC Daytime!

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

Aren‘t we just having the greatest time watching General Hospital ’s Nurses Ball, the first part of which aired Friday?   I’d like to congratulate all the performers, writers and the crew who participated, especially those two great showmen, executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati, for putting on such a great production. I’d also like to thank those two great women who created the Ball back in 1994: former executive producer Wendy Riche and former headwriter Claire Labine.

And haven’t the musical numbers in this year’s revived Nurses Ball been wondrous so far?  I especially loved Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) and a glamorized Ellie (Emily Wilson) who did the comic and so imaginative “She Blinded Me with Science.” The introduction to the ball, starring all the nurses spearheaded by Epiphany (Sonja Eddy) was great, and so was the pas de deux by Anton and Sam, performed straight from Dancing With the Stars to you by Kelly Monaco and Maxim Chmerkovskiy.  I found myself sobbing (again) when Frisco sang “All I Need” to Felicia at the cliffhanger of Friday’s episode.  I was never their greatest Frisco and Felicia fan back in the day, but it brings back the old days of GH to us, special days we shall never forget in so many ways.

So we must all hail all General Hospital’s 50th anniversary celebration, which has been on-going seemingly everywhere this past week.  You have to give big kudos to ABC Daytime for publicizing the hell out of the event.  There was Tony Geary’s sentimental appearance on The View, during which they showed the clip of Luke singing “My Way.”)   There was a superbly produced 50th anniversary special edition of the Katie Couric daytime talk show, showcasing many of the actors (Tony, Genie Francis, Kin Shriner, et al.) who made the trip to Manhattan to tape the show. Included were Jack Wagner singing and doing a hilarious kissing scene with Katie.  Last night, GH even offered a very nicely put together hour long special edition of 20/20 called “The Real Soap Dish.”  There were segments on love, sex and the great supercouples of Port Charles.  I even saw a New York City local news report on the anniversary in a screen in the back seat of a cab I was taking to a Broadway show on Friday!

All in all, I can’t remember such a hoopla being made over any show in all my many decades of watching and writing about soap operas.  Do you think ABC finally, finally, sees the errors of their ways in destroying their other two great soaps, the cancelled All My Children and One Life to Live?   By devoting such love and attention to General Hospital, is ABC saying they are really going to stick with this show and make it live another 50 years?    I’m certainly hoping so.

 Altogether, GH’s anniversary celebrations and the Nurses Ball certainly made it a momentous and quite sentimental week to be a daytime fan.    

General Hospital at 50: They’ve Only Just Begun …

Marlena says:  It’s a special time at General Hospital.  The 50th anniversary is coming up April 1 and it’s been just about a year since headwriter Ron Carlivati and executive producer executive producer Frank Valentini took over a dying show and made it must-watch TV.  Marlena’s dear friend and veteran journalist Ed Martin, who first started watching GH in the glory days of the early 80s, expresses the feelings of many avid fans at the current state of the show in this column, reprinted from his regular gig at TV Worth Watching. Ed’s been a guest columnist here many times, and I’m so happy to share his latest GH thoughts with you.

By Ed Martin

April will mark the 50th anniversary of ABC’s General Hospital. I’ll be marking my 35th anniversary as a steady GH viewer just a couple of months after that. One year ago, I was almost certain that neither anniversary would come to pass, what with the show in a death spiral after more than ten years of dreadful mob-based stories that had gutted virtually everything [Read more...]