The Young and the Restless’ Monster Plot Twist

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

Soap plot twists are usually small and un-undoable. This week, The Young and the Restless let lose a monster that is neither.

Sharon Case: Her Sharon is sweet but sneaky.

As you know, most of the show over the last couple of months has revolved around the fact that Nick (Joshua Morrow)  found out from a paternity test that he is not Summer’s biological father. He thought Jack was.    This week, Sharon (Sharon Case) disclosed to her dead daughter Cassie that she changed the tests and that Nick  is Summer’s father after all.

That sneaky deed might seem out of character for Sharon, who on the surface is sweet and good.  But underneath she is insecure and lonely.  She longs for the life she used to have with first love and husband  Nick, before Cassie died and he deserted her for Phyllis.  She has also proven to be unstable in the past, having set fire to the Newman ranch last year.

The show had already been terribly shaken up when Nick revealed he is not Summer’s father.  This revelation elicited some great acting, particularly from Peter Bergman, who played instant father Jack, and Michelle Stafford, who plays Summer’s mother, Phyllis.  Hunter Hailey King as Summer had many excellent tear-drenched scenes when she found out about her paternity, and those with Bergman’s Jack  were particularly moving.

Michelle Stafford: Leaving a big hole to fill.

It also broke up Summer’s romance with sudden brother Kyle, who is Jack’s son. Harley Sawyer, whose acting has not impressed in the past, rose to the occasion in these melodramatic circumstances. His scenes with the stressed-out Summer were surprisingly good.

And of course, these plot twists will lead to even bigger plot twists.  On Friday, we saw Phyllis overhearing Sharon’s confession to Cassie about switching paternity tests.  That incident promises to lead to violence and we know Stafford is leaving the show.  The departure of the dynamic veteran Emmy-winning  Stafford will leave a big hole to fill.  But the show’s imaginative writers, who invented all these unexpected paternity switches, have demonstrated that they are up to the challenge.

In the beleaguered world of soap opera these days, it’s nice to have a little hope.

The 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Nominations: Some Killer Choices!

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

What do you think of the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy nominees?  The list is long and illustrative given the fact that there are only four soaps.  Several categories are full of names that are most deserving. It would be very hard to cast a decisive vote should one have the opportunity.

Katherine Kelly Lang

Consider the lead actor category:  You’ve got an actor who created a real splash in General Hospital this year, Jason Thompson, who was brilliant as his Patrick Drake mourned the death of his wife Robin.  Then you’ve got the always dependable actors in the category — Peter Bergman (Jack, The Young and the Restless), Doug Davidson (Paul, Y&R) and Michael Muhney (Adam, Y&R).  Although Muhney is a great personal favorite of mine, I don’t know who did the superior job of all these outstanding actors.

Then there’s lead actress:  Who can beat Susan Flannery, who played Stephanie’s march to death so memorably on The Bold and the Beautiful? Or Heather Tom, who played Katie’s post-partum depression, also on B&B? Also excellent as was Days of Our Lives’ Peggy McCay who played Caroline’s Alzheimer’s suffering so skillfully.  Formidable, too, is Y&R’s always dependable Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), who also shone in that category.  Again, who to vote for?

For Best Supporting Actress, I’d definitely cast my vote for first time nominee (it’s about time) Katherine Kelly Lang of B&B, who played Stephanie’s best friend Brooke so beautifully and soulfully through Stephanie’s fabulously written final story. Here is an actress who has grown incredibly since her debut on the show 25 years ago, and definitely deserves recognition, not just for this year but for her long body of work.

And what about Best Show?  Can anyone beat GH, which had one of the best years in its history?  On the other hand, it’s hard to top B&B, with its brilliantly produced stories of Katie’s post-partum depression and the death of Stephanie.

Talk about killer choices. With only four surviving soaps contributing nominees, the work the voters had to choose from is all exciting and memorable. No matter who wins, the quality of all the nominees argues persuasively for the future of network soaps. Here’s hoping TPTB are paying attention.

This year’s Emmy Award ceremonies will be broadcast June 16 on HLN.

The Young and the Restless: Three Goods and a Brilliant

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

The last time I wrote about The Young and the Restless (Y&R’s Missing Links, January 14) I confessed I wasn’t terribly excited about watching the show, save for one storyline which held my interest:  Jack’s pill addiction   Over the last two months, the show has been playing several storylines that are so intriguing   I really do want to tune in.   On the whole, Y&R is on the upswing, principally because of its much improved writing: three storylines that earn “goods” and one additional feature that is absolutely “brilliant.”

Steve Burton

1. Those pesky on-line Steve Burton haters aside, I think Y&R has done a very nice job of introducing General Hospital’s former superstar as Dylan McAvoy, war veteran and a very, very nice guy.  Burton, who is surprisingly good in this role, seems to have chemistry with all the ladies — Avery (Dylan’s ex), Sharon and Chelsea. Did you see the scene this week in which Dylan, in grief over his father’s death, took off his shirt and jumped into bed with near stranger Chelsea (who is pregnant with Adam’ baby)?  OMG, that chest!!  Marlena is not [Read more...]

Young and Restless’ Missing Links and One Live To Live (Apparently) Rises From the Ashes

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

I’ve basically cheered on most of the changes made in The Young and the Restless these past three months.  Characters like Nick, Phyllis and even Sharon have been fixed by giving them more clarity and strength. The new sets, like Avery’s living room/kitchen and Nick’s bar, are awesome.  Ditto the new music and lighting. Happily the dialogue has improved, too. A much needed housecleaning broomed out a half dozen characters that won’t be missed. Under its new leadership, Y&R has had one classy facelift.

Peter Bergman
Tour de force as struggling pill-popper

The only problem I see is that I have trouble getting through many episodes. Where’s the excitement?  The improvements are nice, but I’m still waiting for a story that really interests me. The only plot that’makes me want to tune in every day is Jack’s pill problem.  Much of the credit goes to Peter Bergman for his tour de force performance.  But the secret of the plot’s success is that it has moved very fast. In less than three months, Jack has moved from addiction, to self-directed rehab, to recovery.  The sprightlier storytelling fits in with what I wrote about in my last column:  we’re in the Internet age, and up until now the only other soap that has really stepped up the storyline pace is General Hospital.

This was not an easy change for Y&R to make – it’s always been slow-moving.  Asking Y&R to move fast is like asking a fish to walk. I’m tired of [Read more...]

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?

Sunday Reflections 5: The Young and the Restless, The Revamp; Reality Shows on Y&R and General Hospital; Gold Medal GH

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

The Young and the Restless:  The hardest job in the soap world is being done right now by new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and headwriter Josh Griffith as they revamp Y&R and are rumored to be paring down its expensive cast.  Marlena has always believed it’s not a critic’s job to tell producers what to do; it’s our job to react to it.  Yet, I can’t resist making some observations on the Y&R they are examining right now.

How the hell are Phelps and Griffith going to get rid of any veterans, when the greatest strength of Y&R is its plethora of actors who have been on for decades? Firing any will be an amputation, with the fans just screaming bloody murder even after just one pink slip. Look at how wrenching it was to lose Eileen Davidson as Ashley, who departed Y&R just last week for Days of Our Lives!  Almost all the older vets have proven their worth by improving the awful stories of Ms. Arena Bell and company though their great acting abilities. Examples: 

Peter Bergman

Michelle Stafford

Peter Bergman’s Jack conquering paralysis and his joke of a marriage to Melody Thomas Scott’s  Nikki; Michelle Stafford in the on-going travails of Phyllis; Doug Davidson, bravura as Paul in the father kills son Ricky story, and on and on. For whom will the bell toll?

Caution: cutting or deemphasizing the vets on Y&R would likely kill the show, as it will cause longtime viewers — its core audience — to flee.  Plus, any of these actors can be maintained or saved by improved writing for their characters.

Doug Davidson

Most likely cuts will come from the shorter-termed vets from other shows, like the Genie Francis (totally miscast as scheming Genevieve) and those who have run out of story, like Stephen Nichols (Tucker).  Please don’t cut Debbi Morgan (Harmony) and Darnell Williams (Sarge)!  Each has more than carried over their momentous acting skills from All My Children to Y&R and I’ll cry if they get the sack.

The most effective move would be to punch up or recast most of the young cast, who range from nothing more than ordinary to dreadful.  I have never been a fan of (recent Emmy winner!) Christel Khalil (Lily) and Daniel Goddard (Cane).  Lily and Cane are insipid and I don’t care to see any more about Cane’s past. The relative newbies such as Blake Hood (who plays the newly adult Kyle) and Jessica Heap (who plays Eden) don’t do much for me.  I have a feeling the show will be bringing in [Read more...]

Marlena’s Emmy Picks in 2008′s Humpty Dumpty Soap World

emmy

By Marlena De Lacroix

I’m not overly excited about this week’s Daytime Emmys. I could be fluffy and say it’s because they moved the ceremony  to L.A. several years ago and I don’t get to go and to buy a dress, and to me (I attended here in New York 23 years in a row) the Daytime Emmys was always about The Dress.  But the truth is, daytime drama, which I’ve spent most of  life my loving,  is a collapsing industry, and I just don’t feel very celebratory.  Glitz and glam be damned, wouldn’t the time and money spent on the Emmys be better spent gathering everyone in the industry together to meet and intelligently discuss  finding a way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?

Oh well ,brighten up,  Marlena! Friday night is the Emmys broadcast (8 p.m. EDT on ABC) and you must make award picks.   As Irving Berlin wrote [Read more...]