A “Bah Humbug” Christmas … Plus, The Borg is Back!

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

Oh how I miss soap Christmases the way they used to be. Today, all soaps have been scrubbed of religion. This year only two of the four soaps — Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful — continued with at least some of the traditions that made the holiday a really special time to watch daytime drama.  

The Horton Ornaments

On the soaps of old (actually, not even so old), every soap gathered its central families together at a family party.  On cue, a leading cast member broke the fourth wall at the end of the holiday show to wish the cherished viewers: “From our family to your family … Merry Christmas.”  Thus viewers felt particularly bonded with their other “family” — their soap family.Plus, I really missed those Christmas traditions particular to each soap! Remember all those years Dr. Steve Hardy told the Christmas story to all the kids at the hospital on General Hospital? When Mike Bauer sang Christmas carols in the Bauer living room on Guiding Light?  When all the characters of Passions, religious or not, turned out for one of Jim Reilly’s crazy midnight Christmas Eve masses?

Well, it was mostly “Bah Humbug” to Christmas on half of our surviving soaps in 2012 – a most peculiar choice, given the medium’s on-going race to stay in business. Instead of a gathering together en famille on Christmas week The Young and the Restless, Jack’s son Kyle and business associates Phyllis and Neil staged an intervention for pill-popping Jack. Peter Bergman brilliantly fired all rockets in these scenes in which obstinate Jack managed to give in to no one.    On General Hospital on Christmas Eve, surrogate mother Maxie had cramps and found out that she was indeed pregnant with Dante and Lulu’s baby.  Please oh please, tell me this wasn’t supposed to be symbolic of another Christmas pregnancy.

Thankfully, Days and B&B celebrated Christmas the old fashion way. Days offered warm family gathering, and as they do every year, rolled out the Horton family ornaments engraved with character names. B&B assembled the Forresters in a lovely tribute to the recently deceased Stephanie, as Eric (the talented John McCook) beautifully played the piano. And indeed B&B honored the old soap tradition as executive producer Bradley Bell broke the fourth wall to wish the audience a good holiday at the end of the Christmas episode. It made me feel extra good.   Happy holidays right back to everyone at B&B from Marlena!

The Young and the Restless:  On an up note, however, how unexpected is it that mega-popular Steve Burton (formerly Jason on GH) is joining Y&R?  He’ll certainly bring many of his fans with him.  I think the kind of role that’s written for him (as yet undisclosed) should have a lot to do with the actor’s success.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if his new character is on the right side of the law, unlike his unrepentant hitman Jason (nicknamed “The Borg” by the audience) on GH?

Introducing “Sunday Reflections”: General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives

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

Sunday is a great time to reflect on what’s happened during the week on soaps. So Marlena happily presents the first of a feature called “Sunday Reflections.

General Hospital: Leave it to this regime at GH to bring in a GQ mobster, Joe Scully Jr., as played by the mighty fine looking Richard Steinmetz (ex-Santa Barbara, Sunset Beach) He’s no Paulie Walnuts or Bobby “Bacalla” from The Sopranos.  I dig Joe’s artfully clipped hair. But what I really like about Joe is that he’s definitely a Brooklyn “des,” “dems” and “does” guy withoutrichart steinmetxhaving to say the actual words “des,” “dems” and “does.” Joe’s is a master liar who usually got away with everything in the past (sound familiar?)  I can hardly wait to see the super melodramatic prison reunion this week between Joe and Kate, the woman he raped long ago. This rape produced a son, obviously Trey, played by slick looker Erik Valdez, an actor I don’t especially like. So that makes a show with how many rapists? Todd, Joe, Luke. And how many murderers walking around? Sonny, Jason, Heather, Johnny. That’s exactly double the number of such criminals GH had under Guza. Sopranos creator David Chase could hardly dreamed up this line-up, no?  Ladies and gents, please no letters on the good looks of Maurice Benard and Steve Burton. I already know.

The Young and the Restless: When a friend tweeted two weeks ago “I can’t believe that I’d be so glad to see Christine again,” I just laughed. Now I agree. Lauralee Bell is demonstrating a wonderful maturity and great passion as she now plays a lawyer who is out to prosecute Phyllis for her long ago hit and run involving herself and Paul on their almost wedding day. Speaking [Read more...]

The Sadness of the Long Running Soap Fan

By Marlena De Lacroix

When most longtime watchers get disenchanted or downright  disgusted with their old  soaps, they are usually angry.  We’ve all invested years of our lives and our deep feelings in this genre.

Now, it’s gotten to the point where I’m not angry anymore.  As we watch the final act of daytime soap opera, I just find myself very very sad to see them all so swiftly decline, and that sadness seems to make an appearance nearly every day when I

The real world could care less.  For years non-soap friends have been interested and asked me about soaps.  Well, not anymore!

watch shows or check in on news and happenings in our own little soap world.  Here’s a rundown on what gets me right in the heart:

Sadness 1 –  Of course the worst pain is seeing our shows implode in front of our eyes.  How bizarre and tragic it is that top classic shows, still so beautifully produced by solid old pros like JFP and Rauch, put all their resources into [Read more...]

A Letter to Marlena De Lacroix (a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman)

Dear Ms. Passalacqua Hayman: 

I wanted to write to tell you how much I enjoy reading your columns and your insights into the soaps.  You are the reason I started buying Soap Opera Weekly so many years ago and I was sad when you left.  I bought that magazine every week, at first for your columns, but then cause I just loved it.  I would not get a subscription

I hope something comes along and saves our shows from themselves, but that alarm has been ringing for a long time.  Why can’t those in charge hear it?

because I wanted to buy it every week so the cover would not be damaged with those damn postal stickers.  Their covers used to be so good — those were the days!  I was pleasantly surprised to find your web site recently and am excited to read what you have to say about the state of soaps today. 

I, too, am just saddened by the state of the soap business these days.  I, of course, do not pretend to know all it takes to make soaps or [Read more...]

The Daytime Emmys: Happy At Last

newFor another view of the Daytime Emmys, read the post following this one by Marlena’s longtime friend and colleague Ed Martin.  A veteran TV industry journalist and analyst, Ed is a columnist for JackMyers.com.

By Marlena De Lacroix

From out of a dying soap industry, from out of a cable network I never watch, last night arrived the most unexpected shock of my decades-long soap watching/journalism life: a Daytime Emmys that was pretty good.  Who know that after most of us gave up the fight and moved on to other lives that daytime would finally get what we (the actors, the press, and hopefully the fans) had fought for forever: a Daytime Emmys that wasn’t condescending to daytime soaps!

Hooray!  No soaps-are-stupid jokes!  It’s taken the always awkward Daytime Emmys since 1974 — the year they were first broadcast by themselves – not to make fun of what they’re celebrating.  Even though this year’s ceremony was on 

Best of all, without the traditional sneering and disrespect for soaps, many moments of actual warmth emerged.  It’s called professional showmanship with heart, and the producers of the Emmys this year have it! Yes, yes — emotion — that’s what daytime soaps are all about.  And used to be about. 

such a small scale, it grew large because it finally treated soaps with dignity. They are not, as most people in the world think, and we soap fans know in our hearts – a punch line!

Unlike in past years, the host wasn’t sleazy or smarmy (like Bob Barker) or totally miscast (as Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott unintentionally were [Read more...]

Soap Shrink to Thinking Fans: Ways to Cope with Recent Soap Deaths

Thinking Fans on the passing of beloved soap characters:  BL says, “Feelings are feelings, and if someone did something magnificent in their career or touched you emotionally, it should be honored” … while renee says, “I know they’re not physically real, but if we’re blessed they’re emotionally real” … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Damon L. Jacobs

This is not an easy time to be a soap fan.  Already we are coping with declining ratings, pre-emptions, time changes, and signs of behind-the-scenes instability.  But this week the Thinking Fans are coping with not one, not two, but three significant creative and artistic losses.  What’s worse, the NAW’s (Non-Addicted-Watchers) in our lives usually have a limited ability to relate to our pain and sorrow.  

Unlike stars of prime time TV shows or movies, soap actors/writers form unique relationships with us viewers.  They are in our homes several times a week, sometimes for decades at a time.  We often go through school and college

Respect your relationship with the person who has died …  Appreciate the values they brought into your life.

watching our favorite character go through similar struggles.  We may enter and exit relationships; we may give birth to children and watch them grow up, all with that comforting surrogate family member entering into our homes during the day.  They come to symbolize [Read more...]

Jim Reilly, Very Fondly Remembered

Thinking Fans remember James E. Reilly: Jonnysbro says nobody else could have written Passions … Fabobug says Reilly “knew how to think outside the bubble” … Jenn appreciated how he used his Catholic background … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

It’s one thing to write an obituary for an actress you’ve seen and admired on television, and quite another to write one for someone with whom you were friendly for many years.  To tell you the truth, I don’t really feel like writing at all right now because Jim Reilly died today unexpectedly at the age of 60 while recovering from cardiac surgery.

Jim and I were friends for years for two reasons:  we both liked to laugh, and, as two stay-at-home writers, we were self-chosen outcasts in the fairly social soap industry.  He was an infamous recluse.   Whether he was writing Days of Our Lives or Passions, I knew he was alive because I’d get phone calls from his various lavish new homes, successively in Los Angeles or Amagansett or Connecticut.   He met

Timmy, invented by Jimmy and played by Josh, was a character who evoked pure joy.  At least for me … and I’m sure for a lot of you out there.

me for lunch once in Westwood around 1992 when I in Los Angeles, and as we ate he kept saying, “I won’t come out for anyone. Bill Bell, yes, and you, yes.  And especially not for Ken (Corday, by then his hated Days boss).”  But when he said [Read more...]

Soap Surprises: Five Holy @#%! Moments

Marlena killer

Thinking Fans Holy @#%! Update Aug. 14:  Melanie picks Wayne Northrup’s return as Roman on Days … B3 loved Gwyneth as the killer on Loving … Carl recalls five faves from Santa Barbara … and more.  See Comments below.

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By Patrick Erwin

Soap plots have many twists and turns in them, but we rarely get to see a complete “bombshell” surprise, like the ones we’ve seen in The Sixth Sense, The Crying Game, or The Usual Suspects. The “reveal” of a surprise on soaps usually happens a little bit at a time, with a character or two here or there. And unfortunately, the appetite for news and spoilers has spoiled the element of surprise for many viewers (and that isn’t doing the shows any favors, either).

But there have been moments of complete, utter surprise on the soaps. Here (in no particular order) are five examples of fantastic, goosebump-producing, oh-no-they-didn’t moments.

NOTE: The moments I am talking about, and have listed below, were stories where we the audience, were totally surprised when these scenes played out. There are many, many moments, like [Read more...]

Passions’ End: Get Your Memories of Craziness and Creativity!

Josh Ryan Evans

Thinking Fans Comment Update Aug. 9: Fabobug appreciates Passions’ honest eccentricities … Jonnysbro wishes the cast well … Cherry Ames, with mixed feelings, says the likes of Passions will never pass our way again … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

I don’t  have the chance to say good-bye to Passions because I don’t have Direct TV to watch the last episode.  But I did it in my own way by browsing the list of August 9 auction of Passions props and memorabilia here on icollector.com. To my knowledge, there’s never been an online auction like this of props and costumes from a soap.  Considering the intensity of fans’ love for soaps, I can’t think of anything else that would be more of a sure thing.

I sniffled mightily as I went through the items of two favorite characters, Tabitha and Timmy: Tabby’s  framed picture of her adorable daughter Endora; the actual paws of Fuzzy, Timmy’s largely unseen cat who menaced him from offstage a la “Fang” from the old Soupy Sales show,  and course Tabitha’s collection of fabulous gauzy skirts and beaded shawls, all purchased I’m sure at [Read more...]

Guiding Light and All Soaps: Don’t Change the Quirky Characters We Love!

By Patrick Erwin

Being a Guiding Light fan hasn’t been an easy road over the last few years. But one consistent bright spot for me has been the mother-daughter duo of Doris and Ashlee Wolfe. Ashlee, in particular, is always a joy to watch. She’s a full-figured ball of energy, quirky and often funny, even when she doesn’t intend to be. I think my love for Ashlee (and for actress Caitlin Van Zandt) was sealed when Ashlee sang “The Wedding Song (There Is Love)” at Doris and Alan’s farcical wedding.  (Trust me if you haven’t seen it — it’s hysterical!)

So I was a bit concerned when I read that Ashlee has undergone gastric-banding (or lap-band) surgery. Ashlee’s size, after all, is [Read more...]