General Hospital: Who is the Real Luke Spencer?

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

Tony Geary — Is it Luke or his doppelganger?

On soap operas, situations and characters change very slowly.  So it’s been somewhat of a shock that Luke Spencer, for most of his 35 years on General Hospital a lovable rogue, has turned into a major criminal.  It was revealed in the last few months that he’s the one who is bankrolling the drug ring run by Julian Jerome and that he wants to bring down Sonny Corinthos, the drug dealer who has been his friend for decades.

Some may argue that Luke is actually coming full circle.  After all, when he came to town in the late 70s, he was a criminal, albeit a low level one, in the Frank Smith organization.  But through the love of Laura Spencer, he transformed himself and became a hero.  He saved the world from the Cassidines’ weather machine and even became the mayor of Port Charles.

But what has really been strange about the Luke of recent days is why and how he has become a criminal again.  The “old” Luke was last seen when he was knocked out and held a drugged hostage at the Miscavige Home for the Criminally Insane by one of its residents, Heather Webber.  The “new” Luke, without any explanation, was seen plotting the take-over of the drug trade with Julian at Nicholas and Britt’s engagement party.

But is the new Luke really the same character as the old Luke?  Of course, he’s still being played by Tony Geary, master of the soap acting game after 35 years. But some fans suspect he may really be Luke’s look-alike cousin Bill Eckert, and a fan or two have suggested he might even be Heather in disguise.

Whatever, the new Luke is certainly behaving a bit differently than the old Luke.  He’s been seen doing drugs. He made more than one  pass at young Kiki, who kicked  him in groin in retaliation.  And he threatened the life of his fiancé Tracy’s Ned, who was trying to get him to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.

But whoever it is is certainly using Luke’s physical guise.  He’s again engaged to his ex-wife Tracy, not for love this time, but to get a job at ELQ, which he’ll use to launder the Jerome drug money. Does he still love Tracy? Who knows?  Geary’s excellent scenes with co-star Jane Elliot as Tracy continue after all these years. (How many total hours of air time have these two racked up together? Guinness Book of World Records, anyone?)

Why has GH decided to change Luke thus, especially without explanation.  It’s a question that needs to be answered if the audience is to get much further satisfaction out of the current storyline.  After years and years, it may be time to bring the unquestioned king of the Port Charles drug trade, Sonny Corinthos, down for good.  Sonny has been shown disintegrating with guilt after shooting and killing A.J.  Quartermaine. He’s poised for a fall.

But the last person anyone suspects might bring down Sonny is our Luke Spencer, the good guy who is a criminal once more.

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.    

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: Think of the Real Laura

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

Let’s start off with the positive here: The Nurse’s Ball is coming closer and closer (to be aired the week of April 1) and both current and we longtime General Hospital fans sure have a lot to look forward to.

Genie Francis

After  a few mediocre weeks (starting with the end of the vampire story), GH  delivered an episode this Friday that was quite good and full of the surprises Mr. Calivati had promised us on Twitter the day before.  I literally screamed when it was revealed that Britt and the shockingly returned Dr. Lisa Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) were mother and daughter.  The beloved Bobbie (Jackie Zeman) finally reappeared, too.  Then Nicholas (Tyler Christopher) came home at the end of the episode, and I surprised myself by bursting into sentimental tears when he and his mother Laura embraced.

Indeed, there have been all kinds of screaming at Chez Marlena for the last two or three weeks and it hasn’t always been screams of delight. My fellow GH watcher Moose (a novice, who is still learning which end is up, GH-wise) braces for the coming storm of outrage and Nigel, our beagle, hides in [Read more...]

General Hospital: The Misogyny-Ending Magic of Sabrina; A 50th Anniversary Appeal to GH Fans in the Poconos

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

Isn’t it amazing that we all seem to love General Hospitaldespite the fact that it’s scored three strikes within that many weeks?  The end of the vampire story was a real disaster, violent and oh so ridiculous.  Speaking of ridiculous, isn’t Sonny romancing — and sleeping with — both alters, Connie and Kate, that, and kind of disgusting as well?  Kind of beating up the mentally ill with a club, no?

Teresa Castillo as Sabrina Santiago
Marlena adores her combination of strength and vulnerability.

But worst of all is the entirely unexpected simplistic writing of the renewed Luke/Laura/Scotty triangle. Who ever would have thought they’d so waste the talents of Geary/Francis/Shriner? The only thing enjoyable about that for which we waited decades is Tracy’s jealous (and quite humorous) reaction to it all.  Jane Elliot has the only character here that’s being given the least bit of sophisticated dialogue and she’s been delivering it with aplomb, so deliciously Tracy style.

But now I’m going to say something I know so many viewers don’t agree with.  I love Sabrina, and have from the very start. Teresa Castillo gives her an innocence and youthful idealism that [Read more...]

Moose Says: General Hospital Can Snare … the Soon-to-be-Prized Old Guy Demographic?

Marlena says: Soap fans everywhere are cautiously optimistic that, against all odds, there’s been a hopeful turn in the heretofore bleak fortunes of soap opera. Ratings are strong and even improving for the four network soaps that survived the death watch of the past few years, and Prospect Park is said to be moving full steam ahead to bring two of the casualties back from the dead.

Is it too soon to rejoice? Skeptic that I am, I’m not ready to shoot off fireworks at my country retreat just yet. But I’ve has detected one tiny, tiny bit of anecdotal evidence that audience-building may, indeed, be possible: My recently retired husband Moose, long impervious to the many charms of soap opera that have inundated him daily for so many years, has been espied of late … actually watching General Hospital.

At the risk of frightening him away, I asked him to share with Thinking Fans, whose analytical powers are legendary, after all, what it is about GH that has finally captured his attention. He agreed. Listen and learn, GH producers. Or, at least, have a chuckle or two.

By Moose Goodfellow a.k.a. Old Ed, husband of Connie

I have joined the ranks of the Instantly Irrelevant, filling those weeks between Social Security direct deposits with such typical Old Guy activities as having morning coffee with Al Roker on the Weather Channel, getting haircuts, hauling [Read more...]

Sunday Reflections 3: The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, Days of Our Lives

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

The Young and the Restless: Finally a soap does what I’ve long advocated for this era of desperation:  perform a radical life-saving change to save itself.  Y&R has sent in then Marines in the form of new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and new headwriter Josh Griffith. And Marlena says Semper Fi!  Fresh from their triumphs on Hollywood Heights and Phelps’ latest Emmy for Outstanding Show (General Hospital), these two soap vets certainly have just the skills and genuine talent needed to pull Y&R out of its deep pit of, as we French say, ennui.

And already the fans have started flinging tomatoes at the choice of Phelps, who we all took to task for her cooperation with Guza on GH and other foul acts on One Life to Live.  Forgive and forget, Marlena says, because darlings, this is war!  With 30 plus years of continuous executive producing service to five soaps (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, Another World, One Life to Live, GH) Phelps certainly has the octane needed to quickly change Y&R.  Similar negative things were predicted when the much skilled and experienced Paul Rauch (whose track record  fans did not love) first came to produce Y&R  a few years ago, and look at what an effective job he did. 

Tony Geary

General Hospital: Marlena is still swooning over the GH scene this week in which Luke and Anna were privately reunited in the hospital after Luke’s taking a bullet for Anna and his long abduction by cray-cray Heather. No crying, screaming or carrying on, it was just a conversation between two mature people revealing their deep romantic feelings for each other without words.  The script said that Anna was questioning Luke about his long abduction by Heather, and later telling him that the arrested Heather said Robin was alive. Yet, bravura Tony Geary and Finola Hughes played the scenes’ subtext — two very adult people (yes!) in love — so quietly and with so much subtlety, the scene was a thing of beauty. Luke spoke slowly and clearly, and in a low voice, while Anna listened, receiving his unspoken love with just a touch of a tear in her eye.   What creativity and worlds of experience these two actors bring to their work!  Whoever thought we could see such adult emotion portrayed so realistically on a soap opera?

This was a wonderful couple of days this week, for we who (try to) watch GH without spoilers. The previous day, insane Heather (surprise!) appeared in the doorway of the cabin in which she held Luke, shooting Luke after Anna (yay girl!) had punched her out and [Read more...]

Daytime Emmys 2012: Respect Was Surprisingly Shown

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

Today I’m going to use a word I’ve never used in a decade of viewing the Daytime Emmys (but nearly always used when I attended the 22 years previously).  I actually “enjoyed” Saturday night’s Daytime Emmys on HLN.Don’t freak out — there are “excepts” which I’ll get into later.  You see, Marlena is a great admirer of the traditional award show format on TV.

“Marlena,” Moose exclaimed during the show, “this show really knows how to play to its own community, like the Tonys (and theater).  And you’d never even know that soaps were dying!”  He didn’t even seem to mind forgoing the competing Yankee-Mets baseball game, clicking over only during commercials.

Yup, the Daytime Emmys 2012, were very up.  No more tacky Las Vegas promotion, as in the last two years. The show felt like it was aimed at me, a soap viewer, despite the myriad of other categories (game, talk shows, etc.), Plus, it was done with — gasp — actual respect for [Read more...]

More General Hospital: Outrageously the “M” Word

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

When Moose came home from work yesterday, he thought he’d have to dump a bucket of cold water over my head.  I couldn’t stop yelling, over and over again,”No, they really didn’t do this!”  General Hospital had a scene where Carly and Todd flirted/talked, and Todd was bare-chested. 

But … but … he’s a rapist!

I’m not making a personal comment on Roger Howarth, roger howarthwho is buff enough (great arms). But to feature the man who infamously gang raped Marty Saybrooke on One Life to Live  in 1994 (and “re-raped” her again two years ago when Todd and Marty “made love”) in the semi-nude was just outrageously misogynistic.

Sure, it’s been a tradition on soaps for more than 25 years that boys/men show off their pecs in the summer heat.  And I really think Todd and Carly, who are in the beginning of their “‘courtship,” make a great couple.  Les miserables deserve each other!  But still, do I really have to [Read more...]

The Daytime Emmys: Happy At Last

newFor another view of the Daytime Emmys, read the post following this one by Marlena’s longtime friend and colleague Ed Martin.  A veteran TV industry journalist and analyst, Ed is a columnist for JackMyers.com.

By Marlena De Lacroix

From out of a dying soap industry, from out of a cable network I never watch, last night arrived the most unexpected shock of my decades-long soap watching/journalism life: a Daytime Emmys that was pretty good.  Who know that after most of us gave up the fight and moved on to other lives that daytime would finally get what we (the actors, the press, and hopefully the fans) had fought for forever: a Daytime Emmys that wasn’t condescending to daytime soaps!

Hooray!  No soaps-are-stupid jokes!  It’s taken the always awkward Daytime Emmys since 1974 — the year they were first broadcast by themselves – not to make fun of what they’re celebrating.  Even though this year’s ceremony was on 

Best of all, without the traditional sneering and disrespect for soaps, many moments of actual warmth emerged.  It’s called professional showmanship with heart, and the producers of the Emmys this year have it! Yes, yes — emotion — that’s what daytime soaps are all about.  And used to be about. 

such a small scale, it grew large because it finally treated soaps with dignity. They are not, as most people in the world think, and we soap fans know in our hearts – a punch line!

Unlike in past years, the host wasn’t sleazy or smarmy (like Bob Barker) or totally miscast (as Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott unintentionally were [Read more...]