General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful: The Decisions of Great Showmen

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

For the last year, I have been writing what great showmen executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati are with their crackerjack rescue of General Hospital.   As I wrote last week, the Nurses Week was a blast, with the windup this week as wonderful as its beginnings. I loved Sabrina and scrumptious Emma singing “Call Me Maybe” and the boys of Port Charles doing a shirtless strip (down to their shorts, which spelled out sequentially “Nurses Ball.”)   Epiphany and the Revelations (Tracy and Monica) were great, finishing up the show singing “Jump.” The final act, with Patrick, Sabrina and Emma singing “You Are not Alone” with the whole cast, was sublime.  The 2013 revival of the Nurses Ball will always be remembered!

Still divinely sexy, Robert Kelker-Kelly is back as Stavros Cassadine

But what did you think of Valentini and Carlivati’s follow-up?  The revelation that Prince Stavros Cassadine (the divinely sexy if older Robert Kelker-Kelly) was alive and holding his kidnapped  Lulu frozen as his new “Ice Princess” was either a show-stopper or a bomb, depending on what you think — and Marlena does want to know what you think!  Was it typical Carlivati over the top writing?  Or was it a just spectacular enough a follow-up to the Nurses Ball?I thought it was all way over the top.  Genie Francis’ Laura was way overwrought, but I guess her getting all hysterical (after all Stavros had held her and raped her, producing Nicolas) was in character.  But then again, Marlena was never a Cassadine fan.  What do you think of Laura, Luke and Dante’s rescue of Lulu?    What do you think of that great line from Stavros, “I’m a Prince, and she’s my Ice Princess?”  Too much for vous or what?  I found myself not liking the new Cassadine revival, but I kept tuning in day after day anyway.

Which is what the real GH showmen wanted and did achieve here, n’est-ce-pas? What do you think of the whole Cassadine revival?

The Bold and Beautiful Gets Sexy

Speaking of showmen, what did you think of the fact that Bradley Bell finally brought sex back to daytime TV?   In other words, after months of unbearable tension he finally had in-laws    Brooke and Bill (those whores!) make love not minutes after Katie took off her rings and walked off from her husband.  It was forbidden, it was heartbreaking (literally Katie’s was, landing her unconscious in the hospital) but it was undeniably hot, hot, hot!!!!

So what do you think of Brooke’s latest seduction?   Do you like Brooke and Bill as a couple or are the two just too immoral to bear?  Will they have to pay the price or their forbidden act? 

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...]

General Hospital: When the Veterans Come Marching Home

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

The late Jim Reilly used to say that writing a soap was like baking a cake.  You mix in various ingredients, maybe a little bit more or less of some, bake it, and then, voila,  there’s the show, rich and delicious. The main ingredient mixed into GH this past year has been veterans.  With the 50th anniversary coming up April 1, veterans are becoming more than the flavor of the month — they are almost the entire show.  In addition to all the characters we have “mixed in” already, coming soon are Kin Shriner (Scotty), Rachel Ames (Audrey), possibly John Stamos (Blackie) and the beloved Jackie Zeman (Bobbie.) [Read more...]

Marlena’s Best of the Best, 2012

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

It’s the end of 2012, time for best and worst lists.  Because soaps are in such danger and I’ve already recorded most of the worsts in the weekly column I’m choosing only to do the bests here.  And Marlena being Marlena sometimes I have multiple choices in each category.

Best Actress:  The Bold and the Beautiful’s Susan Flannery. Can there any other?  Her work in the month leading up to Stephanie’s death was just so human and full of intelligence, two full career-long defining traits of arguably daytime’s best ever actress.

Doug Davidson

Best Actor:  Doug Davidson, The Young and the Restless.  Tragedy usually becomes soap performers, but it’s still difficult for some actors to pull off crying scenes believably and effectively.  Y&R‘s Doug Davidson was just grand as the drowning-in-guilt Paul, who shot and killed his own son, when Ricky was about to commit murder.   Davidson was just so realistic as a father in this ultimate pain, especially when he was unjustly arrested for Ricky’s murder.

Best Supporting Actresses:  Too many to choose just one. B&B ’s Katherine Kerry Lang should get the Emmy she deserves this year as Brooke for that character’s loving support of Stephanie on her deathbed … Kelly Sullivan has just been terrifically entertaining and often hilarious as Crazy Connie on General Hospital. (She also plays Connie’s alter, fashion editor Kate.) …  Will’s coming out scenes on Days of Our Lives wouldn’t have been half as effective if not for the understanding and support of his grandmother Marlena. Deidre Hall, as ever, is brilliant as a character who represents the ultimate in womanly love and acceptance … Robin Mattson was just deliciously evil as always when her crazy, cunning Heather returned to GH, bringing with her a swath of misdeeds, including a role in the switch of Tea and Sam’s babies.

Best Supporting ActorGeneral Hospital ‘s Jason Thompson was every bit as good in crying scenes as Y&R’s Davidson, as Patrick so heartbreakingly mourned the death of his wife, Dr. Robin. The exquisite sensitivity the character showed in his grief was totally unexpected.

Best Couple:  Anna and “Duke”/Faison on GH.  In the 80s they were a supercouple — Finola Hughes and Ian Buchanan had amazing chemistry, and their great acting skills beautifully complimented one other.  And they stayed a dazzling duo when both returned this year to GH and played out the twisty and shocking Faison-is-the-fake Duke story.  The actors also did just as great work apart:  Hughes as Robin’s grieving mother on GH and Buchanan as the scheming meanie Ian on Days, who also wildly grieved when his love Madson died in his arms.  Buchanan is this soap year’s prince of melodrama.

Best Show: General Hospital, for making the comeback of the year.  A year ago, the smart money bet this show would be cancelled. But executive producer Frank Valenti and headwriter Ron Carlivati turned the tide splendidly, transforming GH into such a highly entertaining show that fans don’t want to miss even one day!  May GH’s rising ratings portend a new era of success for dayime soaps!

Cher readers, do write in and tell me your personal bests for 2012.

Also, listen to Connie/Marlena chat about soap bests and the biggest soap news events of 2012 with soapcentral.com’s Daniel J. Kroll on http://www.voiceamerica.com/Show/1661.

Sunday Reflections 14: General Hospital’s Non-Stop Storyline Excitement … Bold and Beautiful — Sobbing for the Forthcoming Death of Stephanie

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

General Hospital:  “No one ever dies in this town,” exclaimed Luke and Tracy together as they talked about the wounded and missing Joe Scully Jr. on Friday’s episode. Don’t you just adore when soaps make fun of themselves?  Because back from the dead has certainly been endemic lately on GH. Last week, one of the most thrilling back from the dead story scene reveals I have ever seen  was when  Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan) presented himself to disbelieving wife Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) as being alive after a 23-year absence.

Anna (Finola Hughes) and Duke (Ian Buchanan)
Still electric after all these years

His declarations of continuing love for her (complete with flashbacks) were  the most romantic and intense scenes of the soap year so far.  You know (see Soap Reflections 6) that I am just a marshmallow for the ever handsome, divinely British accented Buchanan. And Hughes should win an Emmy for her portrayal of silent disbelief slowly turning to a burgeoning sense of joy the character felt reuniting with her long lost husband. Didn’t you just love the welling of tears in Anna’s eyes, the moment she realized he really was Duke and the two a rushed into each other’s arms in a reunion embrace?  That’s good writing, electric chemistry (still strong after 23 long years) and great acting!

Robin Mattson as Heather
Crazed evil supreme

Again, as in the last week, the writers of GH proved how expert they are at weaving great storylines together in single episodes. The week also featured Jason finally telling Sam that her baby son was alive and concluded when the two found kidnapper Heather clutching their baby son in her arms on the hospital rooftop. Spine-tingling!  No one plays “crazy pants” better than veteran actress Robin Mattson.  Too bad the previews of Monday’s episode gave away that Heather does jump off the roof (sans baby, I’m guessing).  Why should a show usually so careful about disclosing its storyline secrets permit such a big boo-boo?   Marlena just loves suspense that is unspoiled.

So GH has really been great hot soap opera these last two months, hasn’t it?   From the September day the show changed time slots, headwriter Ron Carlivati has been expertly writing [Read more...]

Sunday Reflections 8: On General Hospital, Jason as an Empty Vessel? … A Great Week for Older Women … A Most Confusing Friday Episode

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

General Hospital: Last Tuesday came word that Steve Burton is leaving General Hospitalafter 21 years playing Jason (Quartermaine) Morgan.  You’d think I’d be happy because I have always disliked Jason, the hitman who was the central “hero” of the show.  But as Burton leaves I have changing feelings.

Steve Burton
Striving to make a bad guy look good

In the past I’ve called Burton a “limited” actor because, for one thing, he lacked training. But Burton did arguably stand fast all those years, playing a character absurdly written to be some sort of daytime icon:  a murderer who usually saved everyone in town, and was viewed by former headwriter Bob Guza as a living saint.   With his trademark black tee-shirt, bulging muscles and gun frequently in hand, Jason as written by Guza was the ultimate hero as he murdered at least nine people over the years.

Guza gave him what was supposed to be an understandable motive for being an unapologetic killer: his “conscience” screw was loose or missing altogether from his brain, ostensibly having been knocked out years ago when the former good guy/med student was in an automobile crash. And being the mob enforcer for GH’s other anti-hero, the murderer Sonny, his boss and closest friend in one of the most remarkable bromances in daytime history, always gave [Read more...]

General Hospital: No Spoiler … What a Great Surprise!

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

When I think about Old Man Soap Opera, I think of someone teetering on a cane off to the inevitable.  So who thought today he’d pull one of his oldest tricks out of his pocket: the element of surprise!

Did you see today’s General Hospital?  We all knew (from a cliffhanger on Friday’s episode and via Frank Valentini’s tweet) that something big was being revealed today. But (and listen up, other producers) he did not spoil it.

Ian Buchanan
As Duke Lavery (gasp!) in the sanitarium

So when it was revealed almost at the end of the episode that it was Duke Lavery who was lurking at the sanitarium … wowee!  I actually screamed!  And clapped! Finally, a soap keeping a plot twist secret! Before the advent of spoilers, which reared their ugly heads in the late 70s, wanting to know what is going to happen next is why soap viewers tuned in to soaps, and why they kept tuning in.  And spoilers have been one of the main culprits that have ruined the crucial soap element of suspense. And in so doing, almost killed off daytime drama as a medium, too.

So congratulations to Mr. Valentini for somehow sealing the leaks that let the secrets filter up to the magazines and the Internet.   And Mr. Carlivati and company did a masterful job on the writing of the episode, during which the citizens of Port Charles also found out [Read more...]

General Hospital Update: Is it Still on Life Support?

By Ed Martin 

I’m not sure what to make of the big surprise on “General Hospital” this week – but then again, I haven’t known what to make of GH in a very long time (years, actually). Robin Scorpio is alive – and looking very tanned and rested, I might add, even if she is being held hostage in something resembling a hospital room.

Seeing Robin in that bed at the end of Monday’s episode was the first time GH has really “wowed” me since that unforgettable moment in May 1980 when Edward Quartermaine sprang back to life after faking a heart attack and shocked his

Even though I haven’t cared for many of executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati’s storytelling choices, it has been a sweet treat to see so many fondly remembered characters from General Hospital’s past return to its canvas.

daughter Tracy (and millions of viewers, as well) after she had refused to give him his medication because he wouldn’t change his will. Ah, sweet memories …

The Robin reveal was all the more impressive because it hadn’t been leaked. I didn’t think it was possible to keep anything from [Read more...]

General Hospital Until the Bitter End

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

Before I start my review of the new General Hospital (Frank Valentini executive producer, Ron Carlivati, headwriter) I have three things to say:

1.  I agree with everything my good friend Ed Martin says in the column below (“Can General Hospital Be Saved?”)  Do a Gloria Monty, gut the show and start all over again. Evict the mob now! Ed suggests it would be best to eliminate

What’s the new and improved GH’s future?  Who knows?  But I’ll be watching until the very end, mainly  because I enjoy classic soap opera which very nearly resembles the classic shows I grew up on, many decades and lipstick applications ago.

“the (three) characters whose storylines have brought the show to its knees.” Lock up Sonny and Jason for their list of murders and crimes.  Send Carly to “Mob Wives” where she can shriek and scream [Read more...]