Deep Soap: Were Soap Christmases Naughty or Nice?

With Christmas falling on a Saturday this year, most soaps have already aired their Christmas episodes.  Which shows deserved a lump of coal, and which ones were the perfect holiday gifts?

“General Hospital’s” Christmas Makes My Heart Grow Three and A Half Sizes

I have a confession: I have always disliked Luke (Tony Geary) and Tracy’s (Jane Elliot) relationship on “General Hospital.”  It’s not that I am such a hardcore Luke and Laura fan that I cannot accept Luke marrying another woman.  It’s that Luke and Tracy are so unrelentingly nasty to each other.  They don’t seem like sparring partners who love each other deep down.  They are hateful and cruel to each other.  Luke steals from Tracy and never misses an opportunity to belittle her.  The twist that they were not legally married seemed like a pointless contrivance.  So I was shocked by how much I enjoyed their wedding. Their non-traditional but sincere speeches actually made me believe that they cared about each other. Luke toasted Tracy, “ Ladies and gents. Ladies and gents, if I may. I just want to say that this is a remarkable woman, my wife. My wife. Wow, that sounds better than I thought it was gonna. My wife. My real, legal wife. Ha. You know, I don’t know how you did it, but you have made yourself the center of my world. And before you came plowing into it, my world was a place that was pretty dull. I pretty much lost interest in it. And I don’t find that anymore. I’m kind of interested again. Wow. I’m kind of happy, actually. So before we begin round 2, I just want to say I love you. And I’m afraid I always will.”

Brooklyn (Adrianne Leon) displayed a depth we have not seen since her return as she encouraged her grandmother not to back out of the wedding, pointing out that Tracy was getting in the way of her own happiness.  The wedding was far from perfect: a Quartermaine-Spencer wedding without Bobbie and Monica in attendance is hardly a wedding at all.  But that was made up for by the surprise arrival of Jason (Steve Burton) and Michael (Chad Duell), who actually acknowledged that they were Quartermaines.

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The rest of the episode was good, too.  I liked Sam (Kelly Monaco) buying a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, Matt (Jason Cook) refusing to let Maxie (Kristen Storms) dump him for his own good, and Robin (Kimberly McCullough) and Patrick setting aside their differences so Emma could spend Christmas with both of her parents.  Sonny’s (Maurice Benard) proposal to Brenda (Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo) came closer to recapturing their old magic than any of their other recent scenes.  As always, the holidays brings out the best in “GH.”

“Y&R’s” Christmas Brings Out My Inner Grinch

Two years ago, “The Young & the Restless” Christmas riff on “It’s A Wonderful Life” featuring Michael (Christian LeBlanc) wondering if Genoa City would be better if he had never been born was a fantastic episode that managed to be both twisted and uplifting.  Last year, Billy (Billy Miller) had a “Christmas Carol” inspired dream sequence that was cute, if a little heavy-handed.  There were so many great possibilities for this year: Deacon is “Bad Santa,” the kids of Genoa City become convinced that the Fenmore’s Santa is the real deal.  Instead, “Y&R” decided to redo “A Christmas Carol” again, with Victor (Eric Braeden) playing the role of Scrooge.  Unfortunately, the result was way off the mark.  Victor’s father was supposed to be the ghost of Christmas past, but apparently George Kennedy was unavailable, so he was portrayed in clips from his previous appearance on Victor’s TV with dubbed dialogue.  The rest of the episode consisted of Victor reminiscing about how terrible it was to grow up in an orphanage, while refusing to spend the holidays with his children — and utterly missing the irony. Victor has been so unlikable for the past year that this episode could be seen as a character rehabilitation.  It’s not Victor’s fault — he had a lousy childhood!  It’s every bit as annoying an excuse as it was when Sonny uses it on “General Hospital.”   When she was young, Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) was nearly raped by her own father, but she never uses her past as an excuse for her current problems, nor is she cruel to her children.  Given that Hope (Signy Coleman), who appeared as the ghost of Christmas present, it would make sense that she would be furious that Victor is framing Adam (Michael Muhney) for murder; but there was little of that, just Victor watching his family celebrate Christmas without him. I could not figure out why they invited him to spend the holiday with them in the first place.

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Victor’s vision of Christmas future pointed out how much better off everyone would be without Victor.  Victoria (Ameila Heinle) and Billy were happy with their child.  Nikki and Jack (Peter Bergman) were married, reminding me what a great couple they were.  I found myself hoping that the show would reunite them for real.  Nick’s (Joshua Morrow) big tragedy was that he had become a workaholic like Victor.  That’s hardly a terrible fate.  Every CEO of a major corporation is a workaholic.  It’s impossible to get the job done working 40 hours a week. I found it a little hard to believe, given that I have always had the impression that without Victor reminding Nick that he built Newman Enterprises with his bare hands and that it’s Nick’s responsibility to keep the legacy going, he’d cash out, buy back the coffeehouse and devote himself to raising Faith.  Yes, it was Victor’s fantasy, but I would think his fear would be that Nick would sell the company to Tucker and he’d move to Tahiti.  Adam, who died in prison, was the only person who was worse off.  Apparently, in the future Sharon (Sharon Case) has decided that Adam, not Nick, is the love of her life.  So Victor’s subconscious is a deeply weird place. If Victor’s next move would have been to confess to the police that he faked Skye’s death, that would have been a measure of redemption for him.  Instead, he just accepted Nikki’s invitation to spend the holiday with her.  “Y&R,” I mostly love you right now, but this episode gets a lump of coal.

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“One Life To Live” Reminds Me of  “A Christmas Story”

One Life To Live’s” Jack and Sam are the most realistic kids on soaps.  Jack spent Christmas trying to convince his little brother that Santa wasn’t real.  I loved him shaking the presents to figure out what they are — though I’m not sure why Blair’s Box of Mystery from Eli was with the presents — or why Blair (Kassie DePaiva) is dithering over opening it.  The twist of Echo, who Dorian had locked on the roof to prevent her from ruining Vicki’s Christmas, tumbling down the chimney dressed like Santa, thereby made Jack a believer.  There were other real-life touches: Vicki (Erika Slezak) and Echo’s (Kim Zimmer) argument over how to cook a turkey will be repeated several million times over the holidays.  Llanview’s Christmas had the perfect blend of the sweet and the tart.

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“The Bold & the Beautiful” Has True Christmas Spirit

The Bold & the Beautiful” continued its homeless storyline, with Stephanie (Susan Flannery) buying the Insomnia coffeehouse and turning it into a charitable endeavor that Dayzee (Kristolyn Lloyd) will manage to give the residents of Skid Row jobs and low-cost food.  Though some of the dialogue was preachy, it was a reminder of the true spirit of Christmas, and continued the show’s innovative casting of real Skid Row residents in small roles.  As an Angeleno, I’m trying to figure out how everyone is going to get from Skid Row to Insomnia, which has always been in a nice neighborhood.  Without a car, it will be near impossible in a city sorely lacking in decent public transportation, but hey, it’s a soap.  I also wish that Brooke had gifted Anthony (Rodnee Saulsberry), who needed new clothes after being mugged, with some of Ridge’s more mullet-astic “hip” outfits.  It would have been hilarious to see Anthony wearing a shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest.  But “B&B’s” costume designer gets major points for giving Pam (Alley Mills) a wonderfully hideous Christmas sweater.  In honor of Insomnia’s rebirth as Dayzee’s place, I went to the real Insomnia to write this column. Here’s what it actually looks like on the inside.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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