That Was the Week That Was

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

I can barely remember a daytime soap week that had as much breaking news as this one.  Here’s a peek into Marlena’s reporting notebook:

Ian Buchanan

Monday

I am stunned that General Hospital (Frank Valentini, executive producer; Ron Carlivati, headwriter)  has  fired Ian Buchanan (Duke Lavery).  It is just so wrong!  Ian is … Ian!  What a magnificent  actor he is, not to mention that he is a soap icon.  He and the equally magnificent  Finola Hughes (Anna Devane) comprise one of the greatest soap couples of  all time. Their story of conflicted love has always been a total winner.  The role of Duke was briefly played by a badly miscast Greg Beecroft (Guiding Light, One Life to Live) during a  23-year break Ian took from the show when  Duke was believed dead.  I .sincerely  hope they don’t kill Duke off for good this time!  Ian is so valuable to GH  and so  beloved by the fans.

Tuesday

Today I learned  the news that Wally Kurth, who has done double duty recurring on both  General Hospital as Ned Ashton and  Days of Our Lives as Justin Kiriakis, has been given a contract on Days. (Justin left Salem again just a month ago.)  I love Wally the Great and  will miss him terribly on GH.  Days is very smart to snap up Kurth.

More Tuesday

It’s Daytime Emmy time again. Oy!  The nominees were announced today.  The awards  will be presented April 26th on POP. That it’s back on TV after last year’s online  debacle  is great!

The nominations were announced  on CBS’ The Talk (I’m a View girl myself ).   They devoted only the first twenty minutes of the show to rattling off the noms, and it was done  in the studio.  Couldn’t they at least have done a remote to the announcement ceremonies themselves?  Remember the days when all three major networks covered the announcement ceremony live?  Doesn’t  daytime  deserve  better?

As you know, Emmy judgment isn’t based on an actor’s overall work, but rather on a reel of scenes from the last year that each actor and show  submit to a panel of judges at ATAS, the organization that administers the Daytime Emmys.  Great care goes into selecting these scenes; they are chosen by the actors themselves, and naturally they  are the best  scenes of the year.

So far I have only seen one reel for Best Actress and it left me totally  exasperated.  It’s well known that the Emmy  judges usually select  a winner  who cries and carries on in the scenes on their reel.  On the reel I saw, the actress certainly did cry and carry on from start to finish.  We all  know hysterics aren’t  all there is to soap acting, and not always soap acting at its best. The great weeping and gnashing of teeth scenes alone are not representative of the varied and truly excellent  work we see on our  screen five days a week.

Much more on the nominations themselves  and the Daytime Emmys in this column as Emmy day approaches.

Tony Geary in Luke’s moment of truth (Photo from MichaelFairmanSoaps)

Wednesday

I cried and screamed  and carried on  myself today during GH’s gala  52nd anniversary show. Incroyable!   What a shocker or should I say a roller coaster ride of shocks this episode was.  During today’s episode, it was revealed that as a teenager, Luke  murdered both his mother and super abusive  father. The story was told in Luke’s flashbacks and through sister Pat’s (Dee Wallace) narration.  The flashbacks were wonderfully rendered in silvery black and white  (the way TV was back then). The day the murders happened in Port Charles coincides with the date of  the GH’s premiere, April 1, 1963.  The details in the early Spencer story were accurate to 1963 in the most minute ways — sets, costumes, hairdos, even the attitudes of men toward women.

In a sublime touch, all the main characters were played by current GH current cast members amongst those  Jason Thompson (Patrick) as Dr. Steve Hardy, originally played by John Beradino, and Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) as Nurse Jessie Brewer, the role played by Emily McLaughlin.  What wonderful performances all gave!  I hardly recognized Laura Wright (Carly) as Luke, Bobbie and Pat’s mother Lena. She was just amazing in this episode.

Speaking of amazing, there is only one word for our medium right now, and that is “Tony,” as in Tony Geary.  He was genius in this episode, but when isn’t he?

Two Tony scenes that stand out this week literally broke my heart.  The first one was set in the hospital room of Luke’s long lost sister Patricia. Luke  hadn’t seen her in decades.  In this scene he saw her for the first time.  The look on Luke’s face at that moment was such a mix of wonder, incredulity and love!  Geary embodies natural acting.

In the second, Fluke was holding Luke’s wife Tracy (the always brilliant Jane Elliot) his daughter  Lulu (Emme Rylan) and sister Patricia hostage in Pat’s hospital room, pointing  a gun at the three.  To save their lives Tracy slowly talked  Fluke  down, reminding  him how  much he loves  his family.  The strategy worked:    Fluke  turned back into Luke in mid conversation.  What a relief when he dropped the gun!   How harrowing Geary made Luke here!  From menace to angel in a few seconds!

As illustrated in this scene, Geary and Elliot continue to be the best acting duo on daytime television today after so many years on the show together.

Many fans are saying this is the best soap episode they’ve ever seen.  I think it it’s one of many in our long and distinguished daytime drama history.   What do you think? The comments section below awaits.

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!