Deep Soap: Soaps Serve Up A Holiday Treat

Michael Easton on One Life to Live (ABC)

Friday was an anxious day for anyone who covers daytime. The day before Thanksgiving brought the news that Prospect Park was abandoning plans to continue “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” online. Would the ultimate news dump day, the last weekday before a three-day Christmas weekend, bring something equally terrible? Fortunately the answer was no. The one piece of potential soap news was positive: Soaps In Depth reported that  OLTL stars Ted King and Michael Easton may be joining the cast of “General Hospital.” Easton would bring his character of police detective/former FBI agent John  to Port Charles, hopefully finally providing the strong law abiding character who will be able to occasionally outwit the show’s numerous criminals. It’s a shame Dante (Dominic Zamprogna), Lucky (Jonathan Jackson) and Mac (John J. York) were not allowed to fulfill this function, but better late than never. Perhaps John and Jason (Steve Burton) can compare and contrast their all-black wardrobes. It’s unknown whether King will play his OLTL role, Tomas, or his former GH character, Lorenzo. ABC has yet to confirm their casting, but Soaps In Depth claims that the two actors will report to the set in late January.

The soaps themselves delivered collectively a great set of holiday episodes. “The Bold & the Beautiful” took its cameras about 100 feet outside the studio for a location shoot at The Grove, the shopping center that is right next to CBS Television City. While Hope (Kim Matula) and Thomas (Adam Gregory) frolicked a what has become a central location for every soap, the Christmas tree lot, the Logan women struggled to cook a turkey. I am not troubled by the caterers daughters’ lack of food preparation skills; lots of kids want nothing to do with their parents’ professions. I was more annoyed that none of the male characters offered to lift a finger to help. The Forrester/Spencer men: proud chauvinists. Of course, it was a man who saved the day: Bill (Don Diamont) brought a professionally cooked bird to the Forrester mansion. As sexist as it was, seeing most of the characters on the show setting aside their differences to pig out together was a realistic depiction of a lot of families during the holiday. I also enjoyed the actors breaking the fourth wall to sing a Christmas carol together at the end of the episode. Merry Christmas to you, too, B&B.

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Will (Chandler Massey) is now the best character on “Days of Our Lives.” The closeted gay teen has been furious since he witnessed his mother having sex with her ex-husband. His presence at the renewal of Sami (Alison Sweeney) and Rafe’s (Galen Gering) wedding vows on Christmas Eve seemed like it would set the stage for some holiday fireworks, especially since he insisted on bringing his grandmother, Marlena (Deidre Hall), who Sami had not invited to the wedding, as his guest. Sure enough, Sami, looking radiant in red, had it out with Will and Marlena. Will hilariously pointed out that Sami was on husband number five. Will nearly confided in Marlena about his sexual orientation, saying that he keeps having feelings that he has failed to make go away.  E.J. (James Scott) turned up in the square, and overheard their conversation. It was getting good. Would Sami be able to recite her vows while the man she cheated on her husband with watched? Then John (Drake Hogestyn) was miraculously released from the cushy holding cell where he serving his life sentence, everyone was happy, and the wedding went off without a hitch. Yeah, it’s the holidays, but what a wasted opportunity. If I were a big John and Marlena fan, I would have been thrilled. Instead, I was disappointed that there was only half of a great episode.

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General Hospital” actually showcased people being happy. For a soap wedding that was clearly constructed to save the show money, Dante and Lulu’s (Julie Berman) nuptials were fun and heartfelt. Though the wedding party consisted only of Dante, Lulu and Olivia (Lisa LoCicero), Dante’s wisecracking priest cousin who officiated and a gaggle of overjoyed Bensonhurst extras, with hair straight out of “Real Housewives: New Jersey”, made it fun. Who knew that Bensonhurst was more than a stoop where Sonny went to mope? I could watch a whole hour of these nice people who actually seem to enjoy being alive. Robin (Kimberly McCullough) and Patrick (Jason Thompson) and Emma had sweet family Christmas scenes that were tearjerkers because Robin might be dying. The Quartermaines — all three of them who are left — also got to celebrate Christmas. I liked them receiving gifts that seemed chosen by their dead loved ones, though it was a sad reminder of how many members of the family have been killed off. Truly, the best episode of GH since Garin Wolf’s first week as headwriter.

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Yes, I constantly write about how great “One Life To Live” is. So it comes as no surprise that I loved the Christmas episode.  It was a true gift to fans, proving that yes, a soap can give viewers what they want — at least during the final month of its existence.  In a sequence that involved a literal deux en machina, Rex (John Paul Lavoisier) and Gigi (Farah Fath) learned that on that fateful night when Jack (Andrew Trischetta) locked Gigi in the basement, Stacy came in to the room, stole her wedding dress and planned to marry Rex. Gigi clobbered her, meaning that not only is Gigi alive, but Jack is technically not responsible for Stacy’s death — though he is certainly guilty of false imprisonment, or reckless endangerment. This is a truly shameless ret-con, but the well edited montage of Gigi getting her memory back made it all worthwhile. Meanwhile, Shane (Austin Williams) heard Jack’s taped confession, was unmoved by Neela’s argument that it’s okay to kill someone if you feel bad about it afterward, and had his butt arrested. Plus, Todd (Roger Howarth) dressed up as Santa Claus to make Sam happy. And, Viki (Erika Slezak) and Clint (Jerry VerDorn) got back together! My cup runneth over.

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Christmas fantasy episodes have become a “The Young & the Restless” tradition. This year’s installment, focusing on Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) was the best yet. In a riff on “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Nikki wakes up from a minor car accident and encounters a female guardian angel, who helps her see that, though she may currently think of herself as a useless drunk, her family and friends need her.  This episode honored the show’s history with well-chosen flashbacks that illustrated Nikki’s journey from a survivor of child sexual abuse, to stripper, to pillar of the community. Unlike prior Y&R Christmas episodes that served to call out character’s flaws, this one was full of hope. Nikki got confirmation that she did not kill Diane — and annoyingly that Victor (Eric Braeden) knows exactly what happened because his omnipotence apparently must be established in every episode. Then, there was a great kicker: the guardian angel was Nikki’s mother, who died in a car crash when she was a little gurl. I may have felt a little something in my eye at that point.

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So many good episodes in one day. It truly is the season of miracles.

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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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