The Young and the Restless: Can Nikki Resist Falling Off the Wagon Again?

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

Melody Thomas Scott: Will Nikki stay sober?

The vodka martini stands alone at the bar waiting to be sipped.  The well-dressed older blonde woman stands next to it, looking hard at the beguiling beverage. Her face tells us she’s fighting the fight every recovering alcoholic fights countless times. She wins  this round, walking away, leaving the martini untouched.

But how much longer can The Young and the Restless’  Nikki Newman resist the siren song of alcohol? The classic Alcoholics Anonymous slogan “One Day at a Time” could have been written for her. A lifelong alcoholic, she is always vulnerable to drink, and falls off the wagon when the pressure is strong enough.

Lately, the pressure has been very strong — the public revelation that she mothered Dylan McAvoy as a young girl when she was a member of a cult led by Ian Ward. Although she was having an affair with Ian, her baby turned out to be fathered by her friend Paul Williams.  Ian even sued Nikki for emotional distress for passing off  Dylan as his son.  Although the case was dismissed, the trauma sent Nikki to an AA meeting, where she told her story to sympathetic ears. Ian swore that getting Nikki back on the sauce would be his revenge.

As portrayed with tenderness and torment by Melody Thomas Scott, Nikki’s great vulnerability to the temptation to drink under pressure has made her a very popular character over the last 30 years.  Will Nikki’s  inner strength be great enough to carry her over the hurdles of temptation that keep on coming? 

It’s an ongoing question that will get a powerful challenge in the upcoming fall season. A new cast member will be joining Y&R. She is primetime star Meredith Baxter, who will play Nikki’s “drinking buddy” Maureen for a few months. Is Maureen also the mother of Kelly and Stich? Can Nikki survive a major dose of this alcohol-soaked “friendship”?

General Hospital’s Chemistry Tests

You never know when two actors are going to hit it off.  General Hospital has been experimenting with several interesting pairs lately.

Lisa LoCicero and Wally Kurth are being paired as Olivia and Ned to quite the charming effect.  Recently after some drinks they watched TV in a hotel room, where Ned had to warn Olivia against a very bad joke — drunk-dialing an animal shelter to inquire about an adoption. Happily, when she sobered up she was mortified that she’d done something stupid.

Another attention-getting couple is Michelle Stafford and Roger Howarth, who have been given a few funny and charming scenes lately in which the unlikely couple Nina Clay and Franco build a friendship.   Both Stafford and Howarth are noted for playing bad characters and their pairing is an interesting face off.  Of course Franco’s girlfriend Carly doesn’t like it.

Most enjoyable, too, are Maura West as Ava  and Tony Geary as Luke, seen skyping Carly’s bid for the job of evil drug-dealing Luke’s underboss. What a treat it is to watch two soap superstars at work and play. Or perhaps I should say, work they make look like play!

The Bold and the Beautiful: Matrimonium Interruptus

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

Eternal triangle: Scott Clifton’s Liam, Kim Matula’s Hope, Darin Brooks’ Wyatt (photo from michaelfairmansoaps.com)

Getting married is easy unless you’re on a soap.

In real life, there’s a ceremony in a church or back yard or judge’s chambers, followed by a reception, followed by a honeymoon, followed by living happily ever after (in the beginning, at least, that’s the plan).

But in the Soap Universe, nuptials are commonly interrupted by exes back from the dead or guilty secrets revealed or whatever. It’s worse on The Bold and the Beautiful, where weddings usually don’t happen at all. Most B&B couples haven’t been able to make it to the altar no matter how many times they’ve tried.

Consider Liam and Hope.  They’ve had half a dozen almost-weddings.  At first Stephie announced her pregnancy (she miscarried), and later Hope’s long lost father Deacon showed up out of nowhere to break up the couple. The biggest obstacle to Liam and Hope’s happiness has been Wyatt, Liam’s half-brother, whom Hope also happens to love.  Recently after Liam and Hope reconciled, Wyatt presented the Hope of the Future Diamond to Hope, causing another schism in the romance.  The Liam-Hope-Wyatt triangle is never ending. (My Moose, always listening from the kitchen, likens this story line to the saga of Spin and Marty from The Mickey Mouse Club days. How’s that for dating himself?)

Then there’s Brooke and Bill. They fell in love when Bill was married to Katie and planned to get married after the divorce. But then Ridge broke up the wedding Bill had elaborately planned in Abu Dhabi by falling out of a helicopter into the ocean. Bill took responsibility for that accident and Brooke put him off again. And yet again when Deacon tried to sidle back up to Brooke – the mother of his child, Hope —  and reclaim her as his old love.

Hold on. Interruptus et necdum completum est. Another couple that hasn’t made it to the altar yet is Ridge and Katie.  They fell in love quickly after Katie broke up with Bill and of course Ridge was married to Brooke many times. Will they wed again? First, Ridge has to recover from the brain damage he suffered when he fell out of the helicopter.

The rest of the B&B cast also remains unmarried. Eric is still Stephanie’s widower, despite his flirtation with his ex-wife Donna. Comic sidekicks Pam and Charlie remain involved but are unengaged as of late. Young Aly and Oliver haven’t enough experience under their belts to get engaged but it could happen.

But  I remain optimistic. The year is barely half over. Perhaps there will be a completed wedding on B&B in 2014 after all.

General Hospital’s Outstanding Young Thesp

Young Nicholas Bechtel is achieving star status as the smart and determined Spencer Cassadine on General Hospital. Nicholashas been excellent, especially recently as Spencer has run away.  He is funny and spunky and has had several compelling scenes with Roger Howarth who plays Franco and of course many with Tyler Christopher who plays his father Nicholas.

Usually, child actors on soaps are fillers or background. Newcomer Nicholas is a notable and most welcome exception.

General Hospital: Surprise! A Soap Full of Great Surprises!

Sean Kanan’s A.J. Quartrmaine: The jury said “Not guilty.”

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

One of the great strengths of the soap opera form is the element of surprise.  Since we have long lived in a world of spoilers, surprises are few and far between today’s soaps.  Thus we rejoice that General Hospital of late has managed to steer around the obligatory spoilers and give us genuine surprises. Doubtless this has contributed to the great ratings high the show’s been riding these days.  Soap producers, watch and learn.

For example, it was most unexpected that A.J. Quartermaine (Sean Kanan) be declared not guilty of the murder of Connie Falconeri last week by a jury.  After all he was caught almost red-handed: his fingerprints were on the gun, Connie had scribbled “A.J” near her body in her own blood, and cameras had placed him at the entrance to the office where the murder took place.  But … surprise! … the jury didn’t think there was enough evidence to convict him.  As a practical matter, A.J. was probably declared not guilty so that Kanan — one of the great strengths of the show — didn’t have to be written off.  The trial took a long time to come to fruition, and during the few months an incarcerated  A.J. and Kanan were regrettably not even shown on screen. GH needs him back.

Another great surprise registered in the shock arena.  Last week Franco (Roger Howarth)  was shown stabbing his own newly discovered mother Heather (Robin Mattson) to “death’ with a shank. Heather had shown up at Carly’s hotel with the shank supposedly to do her son’s lover in.  Franco was shown burying his own mother in a freshly dug grave.  But not so fast! Does anyone ever really die on a soap opera? Soon we saw a hand reaching out from the grave!  Also surprisingly Franco confessed to the murder to therapist Kevin the next day; but Kevin brushed it off as self-defense.  How long will it be until Heather is shown alive again?  How long will it be until Franco discovers he’s not guilty of murdering his own mother?

The surprises kept coming. Another great one was the upcoming write-out of Spinelli and Ellie (Bradford Anderson and Emily Wilson). As you know, Spinelli was given custody of his and Maxie’s baby Connie.  Well, just last week Ellie was offered a lab job in Portland. Maxie didn’t object to the couple taking the baby that far away because she declared she couldn’t stand being so close to her baby in Port Charles and not being able to see her.   So this week Ellie and Spinelli and Connie will leave Port Charles.

It’s a shock and a shame to see Bradford Anderson go.   He has added so much to the show over the last seven years in which he has played the lovable nerd Spinelli.  From his own special language to his immense tenderness, sweetness and great doses of humanity, Anderson’s Spinelli is a one of a kind soap character.  I, for one, will miss greatly miss the pleasure of his company.

But is Spinelli really going for good?  This is, after all, soap opera …

General Hospital: Jam-Packed November Sweeps

William deVry: His Derek Wells is really dead mob boss Julian Jerome (ABC photo)

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

It’s traditional for a soap presents its strongest stories during sweeps, and this November hasn’t been a disappointment on General Hospital. Au contraire, the month isn’t over yet. To paraphrase Bette Davis in All About Eve: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy 30 days.”

The opening of the Jerome art gallery, with its hilarious “BLT” painting  supposedly by Franco, was the site of the denouement of two longtime plots. It was a messy confluence, but got a lot done story-wise. In one, Sonny revealed that Derek Wells (William deVry) is really dead mob  boss Julian Jerome, the brother of Ava and the co-owner of the art gallery.   In the other, Sonny wanted to kill Julian for ripping off a shipment but during the sequence decided that he couldn’t because Julian is needed for future leukemia transplant  treatments for Danny.  The reveal was a bit underwhelming as deVry played it way too cool, and there were really no consequences for the Julian character.  At least, Sam found out who her biological  father was.

There’s more: The gallery was also the backdrop for the revelation that Franco isn’t Jason’s twin brother after all but the natural child of Heather Webber and Scotty Baldwin.  This new “fact” didn’t exactly make sense because Franco would have been conceived when both mother and father were on the soap canvas in the early 80s, but we never saw them get together.  Also the ages didn’t match.  Roger Howarth, who plays Franco is 45, Robin Mattson is 57 and Kin Shriner is 60. Even so, this parentage would explain Franco’s strange and colorful personality.

And more: The courtroom was the backdrop for the resolution of the Baby Connie custody hearing.  Lulu and Dante wanted to keep their daughter, who really biologically belongs to Maxie and Spinelli.  In a unique twist, custody of the child was awarded to Spinelli, with Maxie banned from seeing the infant for six months. The scene in which Lulu and Dante had to hand Connie over to Spinelli was just heartbreaking.

We’re not finished yet: The big news was that Robin was alive after all, having spent the last two months on screen lurking about behind the scenes — first, inventing a cure for Luke on Cassadine Island and second,  wandering around Port Charles having near run-ins with her “surviving” husband Patrick and his fiancé Sabrina. At one point, Sabrina’s ex Carlos even discovered Robin as alive.

And finally: On Friday, Robin had a face to face reunion with her father Robert, in a back room in the church where Patrick is about to marry Sabrina. The reveal to Patrick that Robin is still alive should take place this week, probably during the wedding ceremony.  It should be explosive, just another exciting story event.

A bumpy 30 days indeed! 

On the Bridge: A Most Confusing General Hospital Dream Sequence

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

It’s a soap’s absolute responsibility to be clear about what’s going on.  Last week General Hospital presented a mess of a dream sequence about two possible Francos that was so confusing, I couldn’t figure out what supposed to be real and what was not. I’ve rarely been so bewildered in many decades of watching soaps.

Pistol-packing Sam (Kelly Monaco) faces off with delusional Franco (Roger Howarth)

The sequence occurred on a bridge in Port Charles. That much is certain. The rest … well, not so much. Here’s what we were shown:

Franco, who thought he was Jason, had just kidnapped terminally ill (with leukemia) baby Daniel from the hospital. The baby’s mother, Sam, had tried to prevent the kidnapping, producing a gun and firing it at Franco. Evidently she missed, and somehow wound up unconscious on the floor. Meanwhile, Franco had escaped with the child. He took up a position at the railing of the bridge, properly wild-eyed and crazy-acting, and holding the baby as it to drop him over the side.

By this time, we viewers were beside ourselves with fear for the baby’s life. Amid all this alarm, Elizabeth appeared in her hospital uniform.  She stared in horrified disbelief, and then we saw what she was staring at: not one, but TWO Francos, one ostensibly Jason, and the other the real Franco — or was he? There ensued a debate between the two (courageously acted by Roger Howarth) about what to do with the baby. Franco won, but instead of deep-sixing the infant, he ordered Jason to shoot Elizabeth. Jason inexplicably complied, then helpfully took possession of the child as Franco dumped Elizabeth’s lifeless body over the side of the bridge.

Quelle horreur! But not to worry. Cut quickly to Elizabeth, very much alive and carrying out her duties at the front desk of the hospital.  Presumably, some or all of what had just transpired was intended as a dream sequence. But whose dream? And how much of it? Was the baby really kidnapped? What was up with the two Francos? Was the person who was claiming to be Jason the real Jason, who had ostensibly been killed off when Steve Burton left the show last year?   Was the real Jason still alive? If so, this would be a key fact in the ongoing GH narrative. Nous avons été très confus. To put it mildly.

And we weren’t finished. Before the episode ended, the presumed dream sequence resumed. Franco decided to jump off the side of the bridge, his last vile directive urging Jason to dump Danny over the side also.  This was truly scary!  Finally, just as Jason was about to commit this dastardly deed, Carly appeared.  Slowly but surely, Carly talked Franco (calling him” Jason”) out of killing the baby and talked him down from the bridge.

What was the explanation for this muddled exercise?  GH’s creative team actually offered one. Seems Franco had a brain tumor, and thought he was Jason. The dream was his, in which he appeared as both Jason and himself. Later in the week, Patrick operated on him for this tumor.  As the week ended, we assume the operation was successful. Better yet, it had just been discovered Franco is a match for Danny’s bone marrow, thus saving him from leukemia.

At last, a happy ending for the saga of Franco and some semblance of clarity. Maybe. Can we be sure, given the week of clumsy storytelling we had just endured? If only the writers of General Hospital had made clear all along what was really happening during this dream (or was it reality) sequence, maybe the viewers would be happier, too.    

Why General Hospital Is So Unsatisfying to Watch Right Now

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

We had hope, didn’t we, in those heady days when General Hospital, the leading survivor among network daytime soaps, seemed to be in the ascendancy again. Alas, the good times have faded. These days, watching GH is a very frustrating experience.   Many of the storylines are unsatisfying. The characters don’t make much sense and the stories lack motivation and have holes in them. 

Roger Howarth’s Franco, dancing as fast as he can

The show still seems to still be struggling to come to terms with its three character switches, if that is fully possible.  As Franco, Roger Howarth (formerly Todd) is dancing as fast as he can, but still can’t seem to escape the character’s unseemly and criminal past, no matter how much the show “factually” absolves him of his sins — responsibility for Michael’s rape, Sam’s non-rape, etc.  Kristen Alderson (formerly Starr) is still terrible as Kiki, her eyes bulging and mouth always agape as she engages in her forbidden romance with biological cousin Michael.  As Silas, Michael Easton seems too cold as a cancer doctor, and does not even exhibit his trademark sex chemistry (from when he played John) with Kelly Monaco, who still plays Sam.

At least they have tried to cross Silas into a new story.  He seems to have a romantic past with Ava, as played by Maura West, the show’s revelation as an actress. West carries on as well as can be expected, considering that her fairly new character is so quickly saddled with the shooting of Olivia.  How can she get away with it and still be on the canvas?

Forever pregnant? Dr. Britt (Kelly Thiebaud) and Maxie (Kristen Storms)

The show has crossed Nicholas into a story with Britt, who is still – in what may be soap opera’s longest gestation period — pregnant with Patrick’s baby.   For some reason not well explained or even likely, Britt and Nicholas seem interested in each other.   Meanwhile, Patrick (supposedly the father of Britt’s baby) and Sabrina continue their romance, which lacks any kind of authentic sexual spark and is thus hard to believe.  

And speaking of endless pregnancies, what about Maxie, who is carrying her own baby, secretly fathered by Spinelli. She is the surrogate mother to what she is passing off as Lulu and Dante’s daughter, although many fans think Britt’s baby is really their transplanted embryo.  Got that?  We’re really in trouble when whole scenarios dreamed up by fans as well as the writers are equally unappealing.

Even worse, there are signs that GH may be retreating into the world of Bob Guza, with all its bad taste and silly violence! How else to explain Don Sonny ordering a compliant Shawn to beat Franco to a bloody pulp? It was uncalled for and gross.  And can’t the “creative” team do better than the creepy gay lab tech Brad trying to blackmail the straight Michael into sleeping with him to silence his knowledge that Kiki and Michael are romantically involved?

Listen up, GH! We were so happy when you seemed to leave all that shallow sleaze in the rear view mirror. Turn back at your peril.

Appreciating Three Wise Decisions – In Soap Land, No Less

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

Soap critics never miss a chance to bash all they dislike.  But credit should always be given where credit is due. So this week, Marlena would like to give kudos to three significant decisions:

1.  OWN, the Oprah network, picked up the first 40 episodes of All My Children and One Life to Live from Prospect Park. These are the pioneering episodes produced for online viewing in a bold experiment to aimed at giving the iconic soaps a rebirth. Now they’ll be broadcast again on Oprah’s cable network starting July 15th.  Hooray!  Now, we the technologically unadvanced have a chance to watch these shows on regular TV! As explained by Roger Friedman in Show Biz 411, here , Oprah, an astute businesswoman decided to pick up the two shows after the megasuccess of Tyler Perry’s original soap The Haves and Have Nots, which more than doubled her network’s viewership.  Kudos to OWN for realizing the power of soaps, in an era when so many still proclaim them to be dying.

2.  CBS, number one in viewership and Emmy wins, is demonstrating that it still knows the power of Friday cliffhangers.  So many soaps stopped doing them years ago in favor of spreading out story high points during the week.   But this week The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful had socko Friday endings which guarantee the return of viewers on Monday:

On Y&R, Phyllis and Kyle  kissed, as Phyllis tried to break up the romance of Summer and the biological brother she doesn’t know she has. This kiss (and maybe more) has huge ramifications, potentially breaking up Phyllis and father Jack and Summer and Kyle’s budding romance, too.  Is this Michelle Stafford’s exit storyline? 

Hunter Tylo

Meanwhile, over on B&B:  Also leaving her show is Hunter Tylo whose Taylor lowered the bomb on Brooke Friday encouraging her to tell her secret to all the guests at her birthday party. Brooke secretly slept with her brother-in-law Bill, becoming pregnant. Katie never knew — until now. Wow!  The ramifications here are huge inasmuch as this is the soap’s central story.

I’m coming back to watch both Y&R and B&B on Monday.  Are you?

3.  General Hospital paired brilliant actors Roger Howarth and Maura West as “romantic” partners Franco and Ava.  So what if this pairing is a put-on, one to wrest the ownership of ELQ and the Quartermaine fortune from the Quartermaines? The pairing of the two most talented and charismatic actors in the soap business is absolutely divine soap watching for us GH fans.  Hope these a deux scenes go on depuis longtemps.

Franco: Make or Break for General Hospital?

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

Maura West

So let’s take a survey.  How many Thinking Fans think Roger Howarth’s great charm as an actor can overcome the unbelievable maneuvers that have been made to bring back evil Franco as a viable everyday character?  Erasing Franco’s responsibility for the  rapes of Sam and Michael has taken quite a bit of tap dancing by headwriter Ron Carlivati, and I find the moves bizarre to say the least. I guess they had to give Howarth a character with some bad boy flavor, but Franco? Tell me what you think of this decision and whether or not you think it will make or break General Hospital’s current ratings. They’ve taken quite the risk here, je pense.

Emme Rylan

An additional thought from moi:  the very strong additions of Emme Rylan (new Lulu) and Maura West (Ava Jerome) just might also be enough to counterbalance any kind of ratings or popularity hit the show may take because of the Franco fiasco.  Que pensez-vous?

The Bold and the Beautiful:  Seductive Brooke Strikes Out

I’ve watched Brooke Logan flit around as a practicing sex addict on The Bold and the Beautiful for more than twenty-five years now.   But she’s never have been as pathetic as she was this week when she used all her seductive moves to get Eric to leave  Taylor and “father”  her unborn baby (who was really conceived with brother-in law Bill Spencer?).  Eric resisted her moves!  He’s usually so easily seduced  and Brooke is usually such a successful seductress.  By this point Eric should really be looking into senior housing. But Katherine Kelly Lang’s Brooke will probably never get too old to pull her patented seduction act.   How truly refreshing it was to see Eric say no  – at least for now — to the usually irresistible Brooke.

The Young and the Restless:  A Classy Tribute for a Classy Lady

What a classy and truly meaningful episode-long tribute The Young and the Restless did for the late Jeanne Cooper this week.   In forty years of soap watching, I can’t remember this amount of time being allotted to a departed actor in this way.   It was so sweet to have the entire cast share their memories of Cooper with the audience.  I could have done without their tales of Cooper’s habit of pinching all the young male character’s body parts, though. But I guess it’s nice to know that that even a lady full of class could be naughty once and a while.

Port Charles is Frustration City

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

As noted last week and confirmed by the passionate reaction in the letters section, there seems to be massive dissatisfaction with General Hospital right now.   And it’s not only the appearance of three new characters with too-familiar faces (played by Kristin Alderson, Michael Easton and Roger Howarth).  The show is frustrating to watch, with too many stories that need quick resolutions or some casting corrections.   I have some ideas on how these stories might be improved.

Roger Howarth, now a blond and annoying mysterioso

1. Identify the mystery character played by Roger Howarth ASAP. The guessing game as to who this sinister blond is has gone on about two weeks too long. Is he Jason?  Is he Franco?  Is he a triplet we’ve never heard of? Is this the return of The Talented Mr. Ripley? The guessing game has gone on about two weeks too long, and it’s more confusing and thus annoying by the day.   We’ve seen him happily meet harmoniously with baddie Heather and let himself in with a key to good girl Sam’s apartment.  Franco, Sam’s rapist, is a ruined character. Would the show really waste a star actor like Howarth on another version of Jason, a character is so identified with the actor Steve Burton (who is now on The Young and the Restless)? Here’s hoping the producers have more imagination.  The beginning of his party on the Haunted Star this week will be a much needed big reveal

2. Who is the father of Britt’s baby?  Tell us, immediately!   Britt’s condition was revealed just about the time Patrick finally revealed his feelings for Sabrina, something we had waited for almost three-quarters of a year.  An instant baby “fathered” by Patrick is too pat a relationship spoiler. Or could Britt really be carrying Dante and Lulu’s baby?  The story is too frustrating to go one for six more long months. Reveal the identity of the baby’s father right away! Please!

3. Review and think about fine tuning the young casting.  Mark Teschner is probably the best casting agent in the soap business, but his choices of late have been disappointing. Jimmy Deshler, who plays Rafe, appears to be incapable of more than scowling, and Bryan Craig, who plays the very central character Morgan (son of Carly and Sonny), seems to be a limited actor beyond his nicely developing young pecs.  Neither seems up to the challenge of carrying a story. GH should bring in stronger young actors now, as summertime is always the season when young soap stories are highlighted.  

Your turn, Thinking Fans. Any suggestions for getting GH back on track? 

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?