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...]

Sunday Reflections 7: Central Actors’ Leave-takings on Days of Our Lives, Bold & Beautiful and General Hospital; Headlocks and Diction on B&B and GH; One Strange Interview from B&B

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

Peter Reckell
Is there time to recast?

Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital:  When I used to work on newspapers it was journalistic thinking that a list of three of anything — three sightings of groovy over-the-knee boots on the subway, three Hollywood divorces, three murders in a Queens neighborhood — signal the birth a new trend.  Now, with the leave-takings of three leading men – Peter Reckell (Bo) from Days of Our Lives and Ronn Moss (Ridge) from The Bold and the Beautiful (both because of reduced salaries), and the rumored departure of Steve Burton from General Hospital (do you believe it will actually happen?) — we practically have another new daytime trend. And central, long-term veteran actors abandoning our sinking shows has become a really serious problem.  I guess this is a sign of the soap times, as the daytime drama medium implodes all the more.

Can headwriters successfully handle the exits of the centerpiece actors of their shows? Or will the loss of these leading men leave too big a hole in their shows and cause ratings slides? Can recasts of such important central characters work? In the past, replacements in roles that were defined by the very long-term actors who played them were hard to adjust to initially.  But the new [Read more...]

When All Soaps Are In Lockstep, Is Improvement Possible?

By Marlena De Lacroix

What’s a soap critic to do?  There are only six soaps.  I have a long memory and remember the very early 90s, when Bill Bell originated the homeless storyline with Stephanie, which way proceeded the current one.  Ken Corday is an enemy of free speech; he sought to destroy the critical arm of Soap Opera Weekly years ago. But alas.  The great and ultra creative Jim Reilly is dead and cursed now by Ken and followers.   All that is long ago and distant — to some and those who were not in the daytime world long ago in the first place.

The root of criticism in daytime is executive change.  You call for an executive change when you see a bad soap, a soap that is marked by cronyism, a soap that doesn’t  move, or centers too long on one character or is marked by favoritism or sexism or inside politics.  Yet, all the current headwriters and producers at daytime, as if in a time warp, seem locked into place.  We have Ken, enemy of the First Amendment at Days of Our Lives.  Fronsie eternal at ABC.  All the Bells and the bravura Rauch at Y&RJill and Bob at General Hospital.  They all seem to be [Read more...]

Kiboshing Kish: Betrayal and Malfeasance

KishBy Marlena De Lacroix

I’ve had a lot of problems with One Life to Live over the last two years, but Kish (Kyle and Fish) was never one of them. The shocking write-off of these characters is wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels.  Of all the ways this failing soap could be improved, dumping Kish NOW isn’t one of them.

Goodbye Kish: Scott Evans as Fish, Brett Claywell as Kyle

The first rule of soaps is to respect the fans.  Kiboshing Kish shows no respect for any of the fans, and especially Kish’s gay fan base.  This story was meaningful and

Besides betraying the trust of loyal fans, did the network ever even contemplate what a huge public relations disaster getting rid of Kish is?

easy to relate to for so many gay viewers.  Beneath the fury of betrayal expressed all over the net this week at their story’s abrupt [Read more...]

Ten Happy Halloween Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix

1.  Isn’t it most curious that two of the most intelligent women characters in daytime — Dr. Marty Saybrooke on One Life to Live and fashion mogul Jackie M on The Bold and the Beautiful – have gone from brunette to blonde in the last few months?  Fashion, or just another attempt by the networks/shows to “dumb down” smart female characters?  Regardless, Susan Haskell and Lesley Ann-Downe continue to look gorgeous and act with integrity!

2.  The great, the one and only Eric Braeden; my revered and beloved Robin Strasser — am I the only one l who feels used and tired out by … Continued below

Halloween Marlena

MARLENA AND NIGEL’S HALLOWEEN POOCH PARADE

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Continued from above … being drawn into their public contract negotiations?  Sure, they don’t deserve pay cuts!  But can’t they keep the drama and tragedy private?  The press gets [Read more...]

Marlena’s Midsummer Night’s Questions

Thinking Fans’ summer thoughts on Destiny et al.:  JTG says Shenell Edmonds’ Destiny is no stereotype. “It’s obvious OLTL’s writers are positioning Destiny as Matthew’s first girlfriend. Most of the time, the stereotypical ’mammy’ character is either sexless or oversexed. That is not the case with Destiny” … while Mike Goldberg confides Destiny has made him a believer again. “I haven’t been interested in teen romance in years” … and more, on many topics. See Comments below.

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sunBy Marlena De Lacroix

Bonjour everyone!  I’ve been taking it easy this summer, staying cool in the pool with my new pooch (see above).  Yet I’m still watching soaps and have a bunch of questions I’d like to ask.  As always, I welcome your comments!

1.  Why hasn’t anyone in the soap press asked major actor John Rubinstein — a Best Actor Tony winner for Children of a Lesser God in 1980 and a million other TV roles, plus being the son of the late piano genius Artur Rubinstein — why he’s playing a minor little part on The Young and the Restless?  His Dr. Taylor is the crooked [Read more...]

One Life to Live: Defending Dorian

Thinking Fans defend Dorian, too:  Rebecca demands, ”Dorian has always been a great soap villainess. I have a big problem dorianthinking that she actually was in her cups at the party she hosted for Markko — as we all know, soap villains do not lose control. I want the indomitable, formidable woman that Dorian is back on screen, giving no quarter to her enemies and taking no prisoners!” … Marilyn Henry adds, “I have long thought Robin Strasser one of the finest talents in soaps, maybe in all TV” … while Jennifer rages, “I am outraged by the callous and heartless writing, not just for Ms. Strasser, but for this iconic character” … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

I have been a Robin Strasser fan since 1969 when she, George Reinholt and Jacquie Courtney drew me into the soap world with the pathos of the Rachel, Steve and Alice’s storyline on Another World.  Robin StrasserThe passion, the tears! It was the best love triangle ever!  Rachel was the neurotic spoiler, the villainess, and Robin made her grasping inner pain so harrowing (Rachel was deserted by her father as a child), I can still feel the hurt decades later.   And after 40 years (through Another World, All My Children and One Life To Live) Robin is still here, as OLTL‘s Dorian.  And so am I, having followed her through all of her long and distinguished soap career.

In all those years, Robin has never given a bad performance, never failed to be anything less than riveting, or at the very least  extremely interesting  in any soap scene.  We love her!  She is daytime soap opera!  And on a personal note, is there any other soap actress who has aged so well — naturally?   She doesn’t mind that we know she’s 64 (born on V.E. Day 1945, her middle name is literally ‘Victory in Europe.’)  She still looks youthful and  beautiful. 

It’s way too easy for soap writers to fall into cliché.  Robin is, after all, an older woman.  In our soap world of 20-year-old uneducated, unsophisticated heroines, it’s only too tempting to write an older woman who can be easily marginalized — and  laughed at.  It’s an ugly stereotype.

 And in public appearances she’s always dressed with stunning perfection. Like Dorian, Robin loves all things French. She is the rare [Read more...]

Soap January: Bombs Away!

Deidre and Drake

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Steve‘s take on AMC’s “January stunts” is “I don’t know if I can think of a more blatant example of the type of heartless sickness that has wounded soaps” … and S. Woods adds: “The crud on offer from these soaps is giving tastelessness a bad name” … while Twb6y optimistically doesn’t believe John and Marlena are really gone for good … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Each year, I have January off from school and I snooze, do some quiet reading and graze the minimally eventful pre-sweeps soaps.  Not this year.  Too often I’d see something on a soap that would surprise me, shock me or even out and out disgust me. I’d scream! I’d yell!  Every other day!

What is going on in this soap January?  I have a feeling the approaching end of the genre may have to do with the frantic state of all the soap activity on and off screen this month.  Every soap wants to save itself. Every soap is desperately doing whatever it can to hold on to viewers.  Hence, many soaps may be acting more out of panic and fright than thinking calmly and rationally.  For, how else can you explain the following January soap bombs?

Deidre Hall  and Drake Hogestyn get fired and leave Days of Our Lives for good. Does anyone remember the soap parody film Soapdish from 1992?  In it a soap headwriter played by Whoopi Goldberg is asked to bring back a dead character she

No, no,  not even the freezing winds of January could  render my longtime beloved soap operas … so disgustingly crass!  

had previously decapitated.  “How can I bring him back?” she says, “He doesn’t have a head! How can I give lines to a body running around without a head?” Kinda sums up the absurdity of Ken Corday getting rid of [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: One Life to Live’s Dorian Cramer Lord, Part Two

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  CeCe says Dorian should leave Llanview … cher wonders if Dorian is ready for therapy … Dale tries to imagine a “good” Dorian. See Comments below.

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Part 2 of a 2-part OLTL 40th anniversary appointment!

By Damon L. Jacobs 

When we left off on Friday, we discussed Dorian’s symptoms which are consistent with Paranoid Personality Disorder.  As a Thoughtful Fan pointed out on this page last Friday, Marlena herself wrote a wonderful column back in 1998 about how the Dorian facing-her-past storyline  of ‘97-’98 accurately illuminated the tenants of traditional Freudian psychoanalytic therapy.  She faced her painful history, gained insight, and literally killed the mother that had been perceived as a source of so much dysfunction.  But I submit, did this insight make Dorian happier?  Did it help her gain peace?  Did it improve her relationships?  Change her behavior?  I’d say no, especially based on her behavior in the last six weeks, which is arguably worse than it’s been for a very long time.

In order for Dorian (played by the cherished Robin Strasser) to truly heal, I would recommend [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: One Life to Live’s Dorian Cramer Lord, Part One

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  cher shares on Dorian and respect … norn on Dorian and revenge … and more. See Comments below.

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Part 1 of 2-Part OLTL 40th Anniversary Appointment!

By Damon L. Jacobs

Each week the Soap Shrink tries to offer a glimpse into a soap character’s history, symptoms, and hopefully suggest an optimistic view of how, growth, change, and development are possible.

This week his hands are full.  Because Dorian Lord, perhaps the most brilliant, yet self-destructive, person in Llanview has been very naughty lately.  How can someone so smart, with such great wardrobe choices, make SO many of the same mistakes over and over?  Let’s take a look and find out.

Dorian, played with timeless mastery by the inimitable Robin Strasser, grew up in an environment that can best be described as chaotic.  Throughout her childhood she witnessed domestic violence between her mother and father, and she herself was physically and psychologically abused.  This in and of itself can lead to rage, distrust, and [Read more...]