General Hospital: The Ginormous Furor over Fluke

Is it Luke or Fluke? (Photo: michaelfairmansoaps.com)

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

In many, many years, there hasn’t been a soap controversy of the magnitude of the furor over the year-old  “Fluke” storyline on General Hospital. While some love  it (I gave it a rave in two prior columns,  but more on that later) many really hate it.  Just look at all the negative remarks about the story on Facebook, on soap site message boards, and in the responses to my last two GH columns. (They are “Divine Soaps Plots Make GH Must See TV, Parts 1 and 2,” which ran respectively here on February 1st  and 5th.)

Viewers are sounding off that the Fluke storyline is too cartoonish, has many inconsistencies, doesn’t grow from who Luke really is., has gone on way too long, isn’t our beloved GH and on and on and on, a million other complaints. Everyone is talking about the Fluke storyline.  I even spent a full two hours last week over brunch discussing the Fluke story with my always brilliantly spoken GH fan friend  pjs, who has watched GH since its inception in 1963. The waiter gave us a really quizzical look!

As for me, I’m a bit embarrassed. Marlena believes it is her job as a critic to criticize soaps that are not character-oriented, have inconsistencies, and have characters that act out of character.  Despite its problems, I loved the story because of the continuing suspense and Tony Geary’s bravura acting.
Because of those strong elements, I was and still am entertained by the Fluke story, and have been able to forgive all the story’s transgressions.  But for how much longer will I be so charmed?

For the first time this week, I felt  tired, no longer  having the patience to  wait for the reveal of who Fluke really is when Luke, behind bars for the setting up the boat explosion (that didn’t happen) declared he was the real Luke Spencer. (Fingerprints were found – supposedly — confirming this.)

Plus, I am really confused. How could the  Luke Spencer  I’ve watched since 1980 do so many  awful  criminal things,  among them trying  to  control people (like Jake and Ava) into killing other people, committing  actual  murder himself? And endangering the lives of people the real Luke loves (his closest relatives Bobbie, Lulu and Tracy, not to mention all the other innocent passengers) by having Jake plant the bomb in the boat?  Does Luke have DID, a gimmick story most famously used on One Life to Live with the character of Victoria Lord in the 90s?  (She exhibited six personalities including that of Viki and Niki, her “split personalities”  who were periodically seen earlier on OLTL over the years.) Or, besides DID — if he has it — is there another explanation for who “Luke” really, really is?

I’ve read on message boards and heard rumors that the Fluke story is yet to continue in the next few months with Luke’s past played out, explaining the roots of his possible DID. The reliable ABC Soaps in Depth magazine reported today that  two  actors are being cast to play young Luke and Bobbie and shared that the show is looking for an actress in her late 60s who has  had a hard life. Will she be cast as    Patricia Spencer, the sister  who Bobbie  and Luke talked about only once many years ago in GH history prior to the Fluke story and has never been seen before?   Was Patricia in her younger years involved in the cause of Luke’s possible DID?

So, chers lecteurs, where is this Fluke/Luke story going?  Only those in the GH inner sanctum know for sure.  Although I have a few regrets, I’ll still be watching the story as it progresses because, despite everyone’s complaints,  I am still intrigued by it  Are you?  Will you keep watching?         

General Hospital’s Divine Suspense Plots Are Must See TV — Part 1

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

Tony Geary

I screamed at the end of General Hospital on Friday!  There, sitting in the old Spencer house basement in the same chair in which “Fluke” had tied the real Luke, was a figure with a dead skeletal face — just like dead  Mrs. Bates, Norman’s mom  in the classic movie Psycho! This was just another shock in a series of fantastic interwoven plots presented lately on GH. Quel suspense! GH is now Must See TV every day.

Most of the plots are driven by Fluke (as in “fake” Luke, played by Tony Geary) the Luke lookalike who kidnapped the real Luke a year ago, put him in the Miscavage mental institution and then when last seen in the basement held hostage in the old Spencer house.   Fluke, the biggest badass in recent soap history, came to town impersonating Luke and launched a campaign of murder and mayhem.  He’s nasty!  He’s a liar!  He’s dangerous to the max!

In his latest scheme, Fluke planted  two ticking time bombs, one on tied up Luke  in the Spencer basement  and the other on the Haunted Star, where all of the real Luke’s loved ones have been invited   to a big party.  Among the attendees are the real  Luke’s daughter Lulu, his wife Tracy and his sister Bobbie.  Other townspeople on the boat include Julian Jerome’s son Lucas and Sonny’s son Michael, both objects of Fluke’s murderous grudges.

Tick, tick, tick … will the bombs go off?   We MUST tune in Monday and every day after that to find out!

Fluke, the double of Luke, of course is the phenomenon created by Geary and headwriter Ron Carlivati when Geary had to take six months off last year for a back operation.  He’s been the best, scariest villain!   Geary is so excellent in the double role of Fluke  and Luke, he’s guaranteed his eighth Emmy for Best Actor this year. In fact,   Geary hasn’t been this good since the early days of Luke and Laura in the late 70s and early 80s.

What is also shocking about this whole year long  Fluke plot and General Hospital in general is that none of the advance plot information has been given away in advance. In other words, there have been NO spoilers!  I can’t remember the last time that happened in the soap world.   So everyone is left guessing!  Who is Fluke?  Is he really the “late”  Bill Eckert, Luke’s lookalike cousin, whose grave was found empty last week when dug up by Shawn, or  an alternate personality of Luke’s if indeed he has DID (multiple personality syndrome), or someone else, possibly some character in the cast who has had plastic surgery to look just like Luke?  .  Why is Fluke so friendly and in criminal cahoots with Helena Cassidine (Constance Towers), Luke Spencer’s decades long enemy? And what part does Patricia, a never before mentioned or seen sister of Luke and Bobbie’s, have to do with this? We’re always left guessing.

The suspense on General Hospital these days is divine. And there’s more, in plots involving characters like  Sonny, Ava, Julian, Franco  Heather, Nina, Jake and Sam. We’ll discuss them in Part 2  later this week.   

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!

General Hospital: Plots Progress at the 2014 Nurses Ball

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

The 2014 Nurses Ball on General Hospital, marking the twentieth anniversary of the celebrated soap opera event, is now in the history books.  It did not disappoint. There was the usual male strip tease, and young people singing and dancing to pop tunes. But what really worked was the way the performances furthered the soap’s various plotlines.

A true showstopper came when Luke (Tony Geary), now secretly a criminal drug runner sang “I Am What I Am” from the Broadway show La Cage Aux Folles. He called his fiancé Tracy (Geary’s long-standing partner in melodrama Jane Ellliot)  to the stage and proceeded to marry her on the spot. The joy of the nuptials failed to move Tracy’s son Ned, who immediately removed his mother from her post as chairman of the board of ELQ, all the better to prevent Luke from using the company in his nefarious activities.

Also showstopping were the pair of numbers performed by Dr. Leisel Obrecht (Kathleen Gati), the despised Dr. O, Displaying a tuneful if still somewhat sinister side of her personality, she welcomed the audience in top hat and tails singing “Wilkommen” from Broadway’s Cabaret. She followed it , and then sang a most soulful rendering of the Willy Nelson hit, “You Were Always On My Mind,” to her alienated daughter Britt and her newly revealed son Nathan. Evidently the song had its desired effect, because the three were seen leaving the ball together.

Another plot reached its apex when a lingerie clad Lucy was revealed to be kissing Scotty when a curtain accidentally opened.   After a five month affair, this was the first time Lucy’s husband Kevin (Jon Lindstrom) saw that his wife was being unfaithful to him.  Lindstrom, a very strong actor, drove the subsequent highly emotional breakup scene with Lynn Herring’s Lucy. Will the hurt husband forgive his regretful and sobbing wife? These two pros make us want to tune in to find out.

Other plots progressed, too. Brad (Parry Shen), who had been having a romance with Lucas but lost him to Felix, sang “Brokenhearted” to Lucas and attempted to kiss him.  Lucas brushed off his kiss and went back to Felix.  For daytime, this is a rare gay love triangle. Sadly, it’s been a disappointing one, lacking chemistry and passion. It shouldn’t be this way.

Perhaps the strangest act at this year’s Nurse’s Ball was the appearance of the 1970s band Player, who sang its big hit “Baby Come Back.”  This band’s lead singer is Ronn Moss, who, in an inside joke, is known to soap fans as Ridge Forrester on the competing soap The Bold and the Beautiful, a role he’s played for 25 years.  Seven year old Spencer Cassadine supposedly hired the band for the appearance, hoping to appeal to his pint sized straying girlfriend Emma Drake to dump Cameron Spencer and come back to him.   Emma, for her part, sang “Little Things” and did forgive Spencer for hiring the band, but wouldn’t give Spencer another chance. Even so, Moss, in a smug scene, thanked Spencer for the opportunity to be part of the Nurses’ Ball.

Lots of musical entreaties and declarations of love went back and forth this year. They don’t call this soap opera for nothing. 

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…]