The Young and the Restless: And They Call the Double Mariah

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

Camryn Grimes: Mariah, or the ghost of Cassie?

Bringing back an actor who played a character now dead can be tricky.  The options are to bring the character back from the dead or create a double, commonly in the person of a long lost twin.

On The Young and the Restless, the dead character of Cassie, the daughter of Nick and Sharon, has been “resurrected” over the last year as Mariah, who this month, among several awkward plot twists,  has been revealed to be Cassie’s twin.  (Both Cassie and Mariah have been played by Camryn Grimes).

Mariah first came to town hired by Victor to impersonate the late Cassie and thus spook Sharon, and to get her to disclose her long buried secret that Summer is really Nick’s daughter, not Jack’s.  In an unintended consequence, Sharon went into a motherly swoon over her dead daughter’s doppelganger and adopted her to be her own, taking her home to live with her and Nick.

Mariah repaid Sharon’s affection by betraying her. In a very icky twist, Mariah developed a crush on Nick and one afternoon came down the stairs in lingerie, expecting him but finding Sharon instead. The disillusioned Sharon threw Mariah out, but too late!  Nick had just found out through some investigative work that Mariah was indeed Cassie’s twin, born to 16-year-old Sharon while she was unconscious.  Mariah was brought up by an unloving baby nurse named Helen Copeland and her father figure, cult leader Ian Ward.

Back in up a bit, when Victor hired Mariah, she was still in the clutches of the evil Ian and Helen. Ian had been out to get possession of Mariah and her grandmother Nikki since he seduced Nikki as a young cult follower.  So last week he kidnapped Mariah, and in another icky twist dressed her in a wedding gown, got her drunk and married her.  An inebriated Mariah even signed wedding papers.  Meanwhile Nick and Sharon found Mariah in Ian’s storage unit.  When last seen, Ian was headed to Nikki’s to either harm her or pick up a pay-off.

This tangled plot has been suspenseful if only to answer the question of why Mariah has Cassie’s face.  As the creepy Ian ward, Ray Wise has managed to be both conciliatory and creepy. And as always Sharon and Nick have had something big to fret over.

Will Mariah escaped all this unscathed and will she be able to be successfully reunited with her natural parents?  Will Sharon’s secret be exposed?   Can this storyline get any more complicated? My guess is, of course it can.

Charm, Romance or Not

Very rarely does a couple come forward who are truly charming whether they are romantically involved or not.  On The Bold and the Beautiful, not romantically involved but charmingly up to no good are Quinn Fuller (Rena Sofer) and Deacon Sharpe (Sean Kanan). Their scheme is to pul apart the engaged couple Bill and Brooke, who each wants for their own.

The actors, Sofer and Kanan are quite good together and are incidentally both veterans of General Hospital where Sofer played Lois and Kanan played A.J. Quartermaine. Carrying on admirably on B&B, their chemistry is true and they are always entertaining.

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 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?

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow….Happy 50th Anniversary, General Hospital!

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

As General Hospital reaches 50 years on Monday, April 1st, I’d like to wish the show and its huge extended family, past, present and future, the happiest of birthdays.  GH is a momentous achievement, not just in the history of soaps or daytime, but in all of television history.  Everyone who has had a part in putting this show on the air these five decades deserves the greatest credit for making this show a true icon.  So, producers, directors, actors, writers, crew, daytime executives, ABC … a big thank you for so many years of wondrous entertainment.

Yesterday …

As I write this, I am watching the SoapNet  marathon of 50 GH episodes, and not only am I having a hell of a good time, but I’m shamelessly weeping tears of nostalgia, emptying the box of tissues I keep [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...]

Sunday Reflections 20: General Hospital’s Farewell to Edward Quartermaine … The Pleasures and Pains of Soap Reruns

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

General Hospital:  Wasn’t the death of Edward Quartermaine nicely handled?  As visiting grandson Ned said in a toast:  “There will never be another Edward Quartermaine.” This  was also a tribute to the late John Ingle, the great actor who long played the role (originated by David Lewis.)  Perhaps the saddest scene soap history-wise was the agonized exclamation of Tracy at the family crypt: “There was always the four of us, including Edward, Lila, and Alan, and now there’s only me.”  All in all., a fond farewell  to daytime’s most feisty family, iconic  because they were perhaps just a bit like yours and definitely just like mine: endearing but dysfunctional and  fighting all the time.

The late, great John Ingle

GH, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the  Restless: As if to soften the blow, SoapNet gave us five rerun episodes of the Quartermaines on the family’s traditional pizza-eating holiday,  Thanksgiving, known to them as “Quartermainia.”’  Also giving us old episodes the day after Thanksgiving was Days of Our Lives (Susan’s Elvis themed wedding) and The Young and the Restless (Nikki and Victor’s second wedding.)

Don’t you just love watching soap reruns? Most of all, there’s the joy of seeing “friends,” characters you spent years with, some long forgotten and now delightfully rediscovered. I’m an especially soft touch for characters who had heart, like GH’s Laura and Tony Jones. But last week Marlena really enjoyed seeing her historic favorites, the humorous supporting characters like Reginald the footman on GH (whatever happened to him?),  Alice the wrestler/maid and  Foster and Annabelle, the Q dogs. They added spice to the famous Quartermaine family’s comic brew.

Perhaps the most fun of watching reruns is to see characters and actors in their younger form.  Weren’t younger Vanessa Marcil and Ingo Rademacher just gorgeous [Read more...]

Sunday Reflections 17: Hurricane Sandy Made for Spotty Soaps … General Hospital, Don’t Jump the Shark

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

What a week!  At the height of Hurricane Sandy, the lights went out in our Manhattan apartent and stayed that way for five days.  Pas d’eau! Pas de toilettes! Quelle horreur! Thank goodness that on Day Two, Moose, Nigel and I fled to our country hide-away and by Day Three the lights (and warmth!) finally reappeared there. We hope other Thinking Fans in the New York-New Jersey area also found sanctuary and comfort. And our hearts go out to the thousands who are still suffering, and particularly to those who lost loved ones.

General Hospital: As if losing light, food, water, warmth and toilets wasn’t bad enough. Minutes after the power went out, I exclaimed to Moose, “But how am I going to see A.J. now?” This typically Marlena-esque alarm left Moose at a loss for words. Nigel, sensing a crisis, looked worried. With any luck, power would be delivered to the country home’s cable system in time!

On the Friday tag of the show just before the blackout, the supposedly dead Quartermaine brother had made his first (re)appearance in mother Monica’s living room.  So exciting!  I really wanted to see what Sean Kanan, who played A.J. from 1993-1997, would do with the role now.

As it turned out we didn’t make it in time. But a very dear Thinking Fan tipped me off to the next three episodes of GH on YouTube.  Kanan turns out to be a major, major (re)addition to GH, with great leading man prospects.  I thought his performances were very striking, warm and realistic.   Once a major screw-up (as we were reminded by many people on the canvas who had formerly known him), A.J. has grown. Now the light of a father’s true love truly shown through during his Halloween confrontation with his son Michael.  The re-introductory sequences gave Chad Duell and that wonderful old pro Leslie Charleson (Monica) a real chance to shine.  I can’t wait to see Carly have the freak-out of her lifetime on Monday.

A word to the GH writers, though: please don’t jump the shark.  That’s what All My Children did in its final months, when the creative team brought too many characters back from [Read more...]

Ten More Marlena Summer Questions

Thinking Fans’ summer thoughts on this, that and the other: Esther is happy Holly is making an appearance on Guiding Light, and wishes Monti Sharp would come back, too … Steve finds, “The acting from the new younger set on General Hospital is good, but I’m horrified by the misogyny and thug worship in their stories” … while Roger Newcomb is “actually excited about the Daytime Emmys. The producer this year is a lifelong fan of soaps and has produced some pretty classy award shows in the past” … and more. See Comments below. 

_____________________________________ 

By Marlena De Lacroix

1.  Isn’t it interesting that both Gigi and Stacy on One Life to Live wore as low as you can go cleavage during their catfight this week?  I mean, those puppies were popping out!  Isn’t it interesting that Brian FronsBrian Frons dogcurrent photo on his Facebook page is that of a big dog sitting in the driver’s seat of a car? (I’m not kidding. Check it out!)

2.  Now that Mary Jane‘s stuffed cat (a.k.a. Kitty) has turned out to be the surprise star of the summer on The Young and the Restless, why hasn’t CBS begun marketing souvenir versions yet? Let me tell ya, city gal Marlena just loves taxidermy …

3.  Hey Bradley Bell, headwriter of The Bold and the Beautiful! Marlena knows what you are doing!  Aren’t you copying your father’s two most successful stories of the 80s at the same time?  That’s the (then wonderful, now nauseating) Brooke-Ridge-Taylor love story and the establishment of a “comic” second family (Jackie M and [Read more...]