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Monday, October 31, 2016

Help Me Pick a Halloween Costume For Next Year!

Happy Halloween!!!

This is going to be a very short message as I have a lot of preparing to do for tonight.  Let's see...I've got lollipops and Reese's peanut butter pumpkins to give out to the trick-or-treaters, I've got the pumpkin carved and put in the front porch window to let people know my home is open for Halloween goodies.

And, I've also got some window cleaner available in case someone decides to egg my house.  I don't know anyone I've pissed off enough to warrant that, but we shall see what happens.  I'm prepared for worst case scenarios here.

All in all, I just want everybody to have a safe and happy Halloween.  Dress in costumes that reflect light.  Carry some glowsticks in your hands or incorporate them into your costumes so that people can see you.  Don't eat anything from your loot bags that might have been tampered with.  And definitely don't eat Popeye candy sticks.  Not because they're dangerous, but because they are tasteless.

You know, Halloween hasn't always had the greatest memories associated with it for me.  It was around 25 years ago this time that I had to say goodbye to my grandmother who passed away two days before Halloween.  Believe it or not, her wake was held ON Halloween.  That might seem creepy to you, but under the circumstances, there really was no other choice.

But that's not to say that I don't like Halloween.  On the contrary, I enjoy it a lot.  Though in recent years, I haven't bothered with costumes.  Heck, this is only the second year that I've had trick-or-treaters since I moved into this house last summer.  But, I could be coerced to change that...especially for next year.

So, I'm going to ask all of you...what should I be for Halloween next year?  Give me some suggestions, and I may choose one of them for Halloween 2017. 

I almost considered dressing up as the scariest thing ever this year...but I couldn't find a Hydro One Meter Reader costume.  And dressing up as Kathleen Wynne is out because I don't think I'd be able to do her justice.  Not that she has any to begin with but still...

Yeah, my ideas suck.  Help me out next year!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Days of our Lives - Marlena Gets Possessed

Happy Halloween Eve!

I hope you've all gotten your costumes, bought all your candy, and stocked up on window cleaner - trust me, you might need it if you find yourself the victim of egg throwing maniacs.

This is the final Sunday in October, which means that we're going to have one final SOAP SUDS SUNDAY to talk about this month.  And believe me when I say that I've saved the creepiest, scariest - and campiest storyline for last.

And, unlike many of the shows that I have talked about in this space (with the exception of "General Hospital"), this is a show that is still on the air.  It has been for over fifty years!

It's also the only daytime drama currently airing on NBC.

Yes, the show we're going to look back at is "Days of our Lives".  At one point, the show was aired in a daytime drama block which once included shows like "The Doctors", "Santa Barbara", "Another World", "Sunset Beach", and "Passions", but as of 2016 it is the last one standing.  But I can see why that is.  It can be argued that the fan base for "Days of our Lives" is huge.  Many of the fans of the series are extremely loyal to it and each weekday they tune in to see what escapades the residents of Salem will face.

Over the last few years though, "Days of our Lives" has been one of the shows that forces its viewers to believe the unbelievable.  And certainly the storylines that have screened on the soap are anything but believable.  How can the victims of a serial killer storyline be alive and well and trapped on an island?  How many times can Stefano DiMera come back from the dead?  How the hell many characters can Eileen Davidson play on that series at the same time (and how did she not drop dead of a coronary during that time)?

I think the most controversial and most talked about storyline that took place on that show was the one that I'll be talking about today - one that is most definitely appropriate for Halloween.

Here's the kicker.  I didn't watch this show when this storyline aired, so I'm going to be using a lot of visual props for this one.  Truth be told, they could probably tell the story better than I ever could.

Back in the mid-1990s, the decision was made by then head writer James E. Reilly (the man behind "Passions") to create a story in which a main character was possessed by the devil, and did some very strange and evil things to everybody around them.  The show would borrow heavily from films like "The Exorcist", "The Omen", and other horror classics in order to tell the story.

Now, if a devil possession story seems bizarre - keep in mind that the man in charge of this storyline also created the show that featured a talking doll, a witch, and an orangutan as main characters.  Suddenly doesn't seem all that strange, does it?

The unlucky victim was Dr. Marlena Evans, a psychiatrist in Salem played by Deidre Hall off and on since 1976.  And the storyline began playing out in late 1994 when Marlena went to Louisiana to find John Black - a man whom she had been having a romantic relationship with and who was the father of her youngest child, Belle.  Unfortunately for Marlena, she also discovered trouble in the form of Stefano DiMera, who more or less was the personification of evil.  Think of him as the Victor Newman or Alan Spaulding of "Days of our Lives" if you will.

The plot had Marlena and John finding their way back to each other and leaving Salem together, but at the cost of Marlena's marriage to Roman Brady.  But what John and Marlena didn't realize was that Stefano had also arrived in Salem and he wasn't ready to leave them alone just yet.

He managed to slip Marlena some very powerful drugs that caused her mind to snap.  As the days went on, Marlena became more and more distant from everyone she was close to and she started to become more evil.

This was right around the time in which Marlena had become possessed by the devil.  In the clip below, you can see the exact moment when the possession takes place. 

And during the course of the storyline, nobody was safe - especially not Kristen DiMera, a popular target of Marlena's devilish side.  Marlena also caused a lot of damage while possessed by the devil, even going so far as torching an entire church!

It wasn't until Easter of 1995 that the possession storyline finally ended, and it would be John Black that would ultimately banish the devil from Marlena once and for all.  At the time of the storyline, John was a priest (it would be later proven that he in fact was not a priest, but back in 1995, everyone believed that he was), and John believed that he could perform an exorcism on Marlena to get the devil out of her so that Marlena could return to her life as she knew it. 

There was a risk though.  Marlena was weakened by the devil's influence on her, and the threat of Marlena losing her life was very much real.  But as you can see in this clip, John managed to do the exorcism successfully and Marlena was saved.

It was most definitely one of the weirdest and controversial storylines that a daytime drama ever featured.  And executive producer of the show, Ken Corday actually looks back on that period with some remorse, stating that he regretted greenlighting the devil possession storyline in the first place.  However, ratings for the show went up, Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn certainly did their best with an unbelievable storyline, and it remains one of the most memorable daytime storylines to screen on television.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 32 - The Fan

Last week on Jem Reviewed, Kimber and Stormer had enough of their bands and decided to branch out on their own.  They were only together enough to release one album before going back to their home bases, but they seemed to want to stay friends.  Let's see how long that friendship lasts as we check in on another episode.

This is Episode 32:  The Fan.

Instead of opening up with a scene from Starlight Mansion, we're outside of Gabor Manor.  You can tell because the episode opens up with "Makin' Mischief".  And Pizzazz has noticed something interesting in the classified ads section of the newspaper.  I wonder what she's looking for?  A man?  A pet pitbull?  A Jem voodoo doll?

Oh, it's an ad from an "extremely desperate fan of Jem".  Now, normally this would make Pizzazz and the rest of the Misfits cringe with disgust, but Pizzazz notices that the ad is asking for help in discovering Jem's true identity.  Pizzazz seems to think that this might be a fun game, so she recruits the rest of the Misfits to go to this guy's house to find out what is going on.

Seems as though this guy is also loaded like Pizzazz is.  I'm guessing there's a huge monetary reward for finding out who Jem is.  And as Pizzazz and the rest of the Misfits are about to find out, this guy's love for Jem jumps from admiration to restraining order in the time span of a few seconds.  After all, not only does his doorbell play the song "Truly Outrageous"...

...but his entire foyer and living room has so many pictures of Jem on the walls that one might half expect a Jem blow-up doll to be stashed away in the closet or under the guy's bed or something.  Seriously, this is really creepy.  I guess it's good timing that I'm doing this entry three days before Halloween, huh?

Ah, and here's our host.  Prescott A. Wentworth III.  Also voiced by Rob Paulsen.  And Prescott doesn't waste time for formalities.  He wants the Misfits to tell them who Jem is right there, right now.  And when Pizzazz tells him that they don't have the information, he pitches such a fit that he starts smashing things in his house!  I think Prescott needs a nap.  Or a sleeping pill.  Or, perhaps even a taser.

But wait!  Pizzazz - not feeling threatened by Prescott's instability by the slightest - tells Prescott that they have a way they can get the information for him and that he needs to hire all of them to do it.  Prescott agrees, and the Misfits get to work.  And you hear that sound?  That's the sound of Stormer and Kimber's friendship snapping in half.  At least they tried to make an honest go of it.

The next scene takes place outside of Starlight Music, where Jem is leaving the offices when she is stopped by a limousine that has pulled up in front.  The driver calls Jem by name, and tells her that Kimber has arranged for the limo to take her home for her birthday party.  Aw, isn't that sweet!

But, wait!  Jem's birthday isn't today!  Jem tells the driver that her birthday isn't until June 1!  The driver remarks how Jem was born under the sign of "Gemini" - a sign that depicts two different personalities.  Huh, I always thought that Gemini was the sign of the twins.  But what's really interesting is that the limo driver also has a tape recorder at the front of the car.  That's so random...unless he has a collection of celebrity voices he's been keeping track of.  I bet he has Joan Rivers and Christie Brinkley on tape too!

Jem arrives as Ba Nee, Ashley, and Krissie come out to bring her into the living room of Starlight Mansion where Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Raya are surprising her with balloons, confetti, cake, and a big banner that reads "Happy Birthday, Jem!"

And after a few seconds of cheering and "She's a Jolly Good Fellow", Jem screams at them to shut up and corners Kimber, telling her that if anyone would know when her birthday was, it should be her own sister.  Fair point, Jem.  Kimber responds by saying that Jem should tell her who her sister is so she can ask her.  Um...what?  Apparently Jem's expecting Allen Funt to pop out of the wall to say that she's on "Candid Camera" because she tells Kimber that her practical joke isn't funny, and she storms up to her room to have a nap. 

Jem is trying to figure out what is going on, and how it could be that the people she loves the most in the world have gone completely nuts.  It's a total nightmare for her.

I guess it's only fitting that the first song heard in today's show is a song called "Nightmare".  The video's very creepy, but it's effective at the same time.  And I suppose the song is very appropriate for Halloween as well, even though this episode originally aired on September 29, 1987.  And that's your Jem Trivia for today as I really have nothing else to add.  Believe me, this episode is so filled with stuff that it's almost a blessing I don't have anything this week.

Jem is woken up from her nightmare by Rio, and Jem tells Rio all about her strange day with the birthday celebrations and the like, and Rio just holds her and tells her that it's going to be okay because they don't know who she really is...unlike him.  And Jem just goes "J'ACCUSE" to Rio, demanding who told him about who she really is!  Wow, Jem really IS going crazy this time around.  Before Rio can do anything, Krissie comes into the room and informs Jem that Video is here with a special birthday present for her.  And Jem is once more trying to figure out what is going on because now Video's involved in this charade as well. 

Apparently, Video's come with a special birthday video for Jem and the others to watch, and Jem is wondering what could possibly be on the tape.  I guess we'll find out as Video powers up the VCR - because as we know, DVD Players didn't come into the mainstream for another ten years after this show aired.

The first clip shows Jem as a baby with pink hair - and right off the bat, Jem should clue in that this video is bogus as pink is definitely NOT Jem's natural hair least, I hope not.  But the second clip shows an eight year old Jem singing with a pink haired mother coming onto the scene.  Jem wants to know who the woman is, and Shana pipes up that it's her mother!  Okay, now wait a minute...I could see Raya making that mistake, but I'm pretty sure that Jerrica and Kimber's mother was alive when Aja and Shana came to live with them. 

By the time we reach the end of the video, Jem angrily yanks the tape out of the VCR and cries shenanigans, which makes Video grab the tape and storm out of the mansion with three of the Starlight Girls following behind her.  My question is...why only three?  Shouldn't there be TWELVE?  Very strange.  Unbelievably, the rest of the Holograms defend Video and tell Jem that she worked hard on her birthday video which Jem tells them is completely bogus.  Once more, she tries to appeal to Kimber, and Kimber tries to get Jem to reveal herself as Jerrica - but Jem is onto the whole thing and runs out of the room to get away.  What in the world is going on?

And more importantly, why does Kimber's voice drop about two octaves? 

And, why are the Misfits and Prescott watching the whole thing on closed circuit television?

Oh, wait...I get it.  Because Jem doesn't think we've dealt with enough doppelganger plotlines so let's make a doppelganger of every single person that Jem knows so that they can drive her crazy and reveal her secret!  It's classic gaslighting.  And I have to say - this is probably the cruelest that the Misfits have ever been.  The fact that Stormer is going along with this sick plan negates everything that she did in the last episode.  It's really disturbing to watch.  And I think that Prescott's reactions say it all.  He's already showing buyer's remorse here.

But Pizzazz is obviously wanting more, and she calls in all of the Jem actors to do a better job.  I must admit, it's funny to see "Aja" with a short brown haircut and "Raya" without a Latino accent, but still, this is insanity.  Of course, Pizzazz is willing to go all out to find out who Jem really is.  Even if we have to have a song from Episode 16 to prove it.

Seriously, they just play "Who Is She, Anyway" again while Pizzazz berates her actresses.  It's still an effective use of the song, but again, this plot development is very disturbing.  I'm almost wondering if the real Holograms are okay.  I hope Jetta and Roxy didn't kidnap them or kill them or sell them to Eric as slaves or something.

No, they're busy practicing for a concert at the real Starlight Mansion.  Well, at least Aja, Raya, and Shana are.  Kimber comes back with the announcement that when she went to pick up Jem, she had already left, which causes the rest of the Holograms to wonder where she went.

Oh my goodness, Pizzazz actually built a complete replica of Starlight Mansion.  The used car lot next door is a dead giveaway.  But my question in the world did Pizzazz know what the interior of Starlight Mansion looked like?  The only one who actually went inside that house was Stormer and...yeah, we can say it.  Stormer's officially gone back to the dark side once more.  A shame.

Seems like Jem is rested up enough to want to play some tunes, and the rest of the "band" is starting to worry.  I'm guessing that when Pizzazz hired the actors to play the parts of Jem's friends and family that she neglected to hire ones who could play musical instruments.  This is made obvious when "Aja" starts to play the guitar backwards.  And even more obvious when Jem tries to sing and nobody can play a note in tune.  But hey, at least Samantha Newark's singing is much better in this episode than the one a couple of weeks ago.

At this point, Jem is really starting to get annoyed and she practically forces "Kimber" to start playing something on the keyboard.  And "Kimber's" natural response to this is to fake a fainting spell.  Because nothing changes the subject quite like passing out on a hard floor.  Jem instantly rushes to "Kimber's" side, and to "Kimber's" credit, she's doing a good job faking being knocked silly and not knowing who Jem is.  She's doing so well that I almost think that Jem is going to reveal herself as Jerrica to the imposters!

Well, at least she almost does - until JERRICA walks into the room!  Now, if this isn't a red flag that something strange is going on, then I think that Jem must be on drugs.  Serious memory loss drugs. 

Pizzazz is cursing the fact that the actress that they hired to play Jerrica was three hours late!  Um...just saying, if "Jerrica" showed up on time, your ruse would have been up three hours ago.  Poor Prescott is getting more and more horrified by the Misfits tactics and he demands that they cease this plan - but Jetta overpowers him and tells him that things are just getting good now.

Jem is blown away by "Jerrica" and how she is there when Jem knows she shouldn't be.  Jem even asks "Jerrica" who she is, and when "Jerrica" tells her that she's Jerrica Benton, Jem actually asks "then, who am I?".  Oh, I sure hope the Misfits didn't hear that!  That's almost a confession!  This is how screwed up Jem's mind is, and this is how screwed up this plan is!  This episode is really, REALLY uncomfortable to watch. 

Fortunately, the Misfits are too busy stuffing Prescott inside of a closet to have heard said confession.  Seems like Prescott is getting uncomfortable with Jem's gaslighting and in his effort to try and get to Jem to tell her everything, Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta make sure he doesn't.  Stormer does show concern by questioning whether they're doing the right thing by Prescott, but at this point it's too little, too late.

Back at the real Starlight Mansion, the real Holograms are having a consultation with Synergy, and given that Synergy can track Jem's location using the JemStar earrings, it doesn't take them long to find her.  They are just as horrified as I am that Jem seems to be in a replica of Starlight Mansion, and they are concerned that Jem seems to be having a conversation with Jerrica!  Synergy warns them that Jem is very confused and very close to telling everyone who she really is, so the rest of the Holograms get the location of the fake Starlight Mansion from Synergy and speed off to try and rescue her.

Jem's trying her best to stay composed, but being in a house filled with pod people has really made her mind bend.  She does remember that Synergy is in the house somewhere and she feels that if she can get to her, she might be saved.  But when the set designers built the fake Starlight Mansion for the Misfits, they would have no way of knowing that Synergy was in the house, so when Jem tries to walk through the holographic wall that protects Synergy, she actually walks into a solid wall and knocks herself unconscious. 

Jem wakes up in a hospital bed and she is surrounded by her bandmates who tell her everything that happened - about how actresses were posing as them and how cameras were filming her every move.  It was like Jem was on "Big Brother", only with no Julie Chen, power of veto, or half million dollar cash prize.  What I find interesting is that these Holograms seem to be wearing the same outfits as the fake Holograms.  Compare the two Kimbers for the best example of this.  I'm now starting to question whether Jem is really at the hospital.

Nope.  The hospital room is as fake as the ones used on "General Hospital", and once more the Misfits are salivating over the fact that Jem is about to reveal herself once and for all...

...but wait!  Aja is confronting...Aja?  Seems as though the real Holograms are about to come face to face with the fake Holograms in a battle of the ages!  Kimber and "Kimber" even come to blows and get into a Jerry Springer style catfight!  I half expect "Shana" and "Raya" to throw their blouses off for some Jerry beads!  But instead, Kimber just yanks off the fake Kimber's nasty looking wig and the four actresses flee in terror.  And the Misfits are starting to get sick to their stomachs. 

Of course, Pizzazz is stubborn as ever, and decides that even though their actresses sucked, they could still make Jem reveal herself.

Unfortunately, real Aja has more insight and brains than "Aja", "Kimber", and "Raya" combined, and she spots the camera hidden in the hospital room fairly quickly.  She sprays some sort of chemical on the lens that distorts the image, and this now causes the Misfits to be forced to flee themselves.  Well, after Pizzazz throws a temper tantrum and kicks a chair, that is.  Cowards.

So it's finally time for Jem to leave the house of horrors with her real friends, but Shana happens to hear sounds coming from one of the rooms, and thinking that the day hasn't been strange enough, they decide to investigate and find poor little Prescott stuck in the closet.  Oh, this explanation should be fun.

So, after Prescott fills them in on everything, Jem punches Prescott in the face, Raya and Aja call the police, and all the Misfits are taken to prison.  Oh, wait.  That's what SHOULD have happened.

In reality, Prescott tells them that he is extremely remorseful for letting a bunch of leopard-skin clad hookers manipulate him into doing bad things to Jem, and Jem somehow finds a way to forgive him even though she almost ended up in a padded room because of it.  This. defies. reality.

Oh, and Prescott tries to make it up to them by planning a concert or something where he'll donate the funds to a charity, and Jem's like, okay, sure.  And the show concludes with an Episode 25 song, "I Believe in Happy Endings" because despite the fact that this was the most disturbing episode of the series that I have seen so far, we have to somehow find a way to make it a happy ending even though Prescott is obsessed, the Misfits are sadistic sociopaths, and Jem will likely be suffering post-traumatic stress disorder for the next twenty years!  

Next week, the girls celebrate Father's Day - in November.  And Pizzazz and Kimber are not happy about it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25, 1928

You know how all this month, I've been doing Soap Suds Sundays?  Well, as it so happens, today's Tuesday Timeline entry is also soap themed.  But that's your only clue for the time being.

In the meantime, let us see what went on in the world on October 25 through the history pages, shall we?

1760 - George III becomes King of Britain

1854 - The Battle of Balaclava takes place

1861 - The Toronto Stock Exchange opens

1881 - Artist Pablo Picasso (d. 1973) is born in Malaga, Spain

1920 - Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, dies in prison following a 74-day long hunger strike

1924 - Actor Billy Barty (d. 2000) is born in Millsboro, Pennsylvania

1940 - Benjamin O. Davis is named the first African American general in the United States Army

1959 - Divinyl's frontwoman Chrissy Amphlett (d. 2013) is born in Geelong, Australia

1962 - Adlai Stevenson shows photographic evidence proving that Soviet missiles are installed in Cuba at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council

1973 - Actor Lamont Bentley (d. 2005) is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1977 - The OpenVMS V1.0 is released by Digital Equipment Corporation

1980 - Proceedings on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction conclude

1986 - Cyndi Lauper scores a #1 hit on the Billboard charts with "True Colors"

1992 - Singer Roger Miller dies at the age of 56

1995 - Seven high school students are killed in Fox River Grove, Illinois, when a commuter train crashes into their school bus

1996 - The movie "Thinner" is released at the box office

2008 - Journalist Anne Pressly succumbs to the injuries she received five days earlier after being brutally attacked in her home during a robbery attempt - she was just 26

2010 - Actress/producer Lisa Blount dies at the age of 53

2013 - Actress Marcia Wallace passes away at the age of 70

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following famous faces turning one year older; Barbara Cook, Marion Ross, Helen Reddy, Glenn Tipton, Daniel Mark Epstein, Mollie O'Brien, Glynis Barber, Nancy Cartwright, Phil Daniels, Lynn Toler, Ward Burton, Chad Smith, Nick Hancock, Darlene Vogel, Tracy Nelson, Michael Boatman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Wendel Clark, Adam Goldberg, Adam Pascal, Ed Robertson, Chely Wright, Craig Robinson, Jonathan Torrens, Sarah Thompson, Mehcad Brooks, Josh Henderson, Sara Lumholdt, Katy Perry, and Ciara.

Okay, so what date are we going back in time to this week?  Prepare yourselves, because this date is almost a century back in time.

The date?  October 25, 1928.

Obviously, we're talking about something or someone that has a connection to the world of soaps.  After all, I eluded to that in the opening paragraph.  I'll let you know that this date is the birthday of a soap actress.  It can't be for a soap opera...the oldest soap I know is "Guiding Light", and that didn't debut until 1937.

Sadly, this is an actress who is no longer among the living.  She passed away three years ago from an infection shortly after doing a series of promotions for the upcoming anniversary of the show she acted on for almost four decades. 

And although she wasn't an original character of the series - she joined the show approximately six months after its March 1973 debut on CBS - she made enough of an impact to have her character be as endeared and remembered as Victor Newman, Nikki Newman, Jack Abbott, or Paul Williams.

This is a blog about actress Jeanne Cooper, who would have been 88 years old today.  And of course, Jeanne Cooper will forever be remembered for her role as Katherine Chancellor, one of the longest serving characters on the hit daytime drama, "The Young and the Restless".  The show has been the most watched soap opera since 1988 and part of the reason why could be attributed to the many storylines that Cooper acted in during the thirty-nine years she spent on the show.

And of course, we'll get to some of her most memorable plots on the series later on.  But for those of you who think that Jeanne Cooper started her career on the soap opera, you would be mistaken.  In fact, she got bit by the acting bug a full two decades before "The Young and the Restless" filmed its very first episode!

Among her very first roles was Myra in the 1953 film "The Redhead from Wyoming".  She made several other appearances in films throughout the 1950s and 1960s, starring alongside some big names in the Hollywood industry at the time - including Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, and Maureen O'Hara among others.

During this time, she also became a wife to husband Harry Bernsen Jr. (they were married for twenty-three years before divorcing in 1977), and together they had three children, Corbin, Collin, and Caren.

(And, although all three followed their mother in the acting business, many of you probably remember Corbin the most, as he starred in eight seasons of "L.A. Law".)

But while she made several film appearances, she thrived even more on the small screen.  She received her very first Emmy nomination in 1956 for a role she played in the series "Ben Casey", and she also made appearances on "Perry Mason", "Tales of Wells Fargo", "The Big Valley", "The Twilight Zone", and the original run of "Hawaii Five-O".

Arguably though, it was on "The Young and the Restless" that Jeanne Cooper became a Hollywood legend in her own right.  There aren't too many people you could call a soap opera veteran.  Prior to Jeanne Cooper, you might say that Susan Lucci, Eileen Fulton, and Charita Bauer were the only ones to be on a soap opera longer than Cooper. 

(Those three actresses played Erica Kane on "All My Children", Lisa on "As The World Turns" and Bert Bauer on "Guiding Light" respectively.)

Certainly, as Katherine Chancellor, Jeanne Cooper went through a lot of emotional storylines.  During the entire series, her character battled alcoholism and fell off the wagon many times - but when she found sobriety, she was a trusted friend to other Genoa City residents who had gotten addicted to alcohol themselves - Nikki Newman and Neil Winters, for example.

Katherine also had to deal with a long-standing rivalry between herself and Jill Foster (Brenda Dickson/Deborah Adair/Jess Walton).  Interestingly enough, Katherine and Jill started off as good friends and they confided everything to each other.  At least, that is until Jill went after Katherine's husband and soured the friendship forever.  The rivalry was one of the longest conflicts to have ever been shown on television - over thirty years it lasted!  Even when Katherine believed that Jill was her daughter - which was later proven to be not true - these two had the ultimate love-hate relationship. 

Katherine also became the first soap character to undergo cosmetic surgery.  In 1984, she underwent a facelift - as did actress Jeanne Cooper.  The show did a good job of portraying the storyline and really gave the viewer the real story behind how cosmetic enhancements really work.  It was that touch of realism that helped draw viewers to the soap, and Cooper was one of the reasons why.

Even when she found herself in convoluted storylines where she had a doppelganger named Marge trying to take over her life, Cooper made the dual roles work and Marge would become a respected character in two separate stints - one in 1989, and one in 2008. 

(And, I'm sure that Jeanne Cooper was thrilled to have Marge come back for other reasons.  After all, the same year Marge returned was the same year she won her first Daytime Emmy Award!  Though, she would get ten nominations total.)

Sadly, Jeanne Cooper's run as Katherine Chancellor came to an end right around the time that "The Young and the Restless" was celebrating its 40th anniversary.  She filmed her last scene with Jess Walton on March 26, 2013, and that scene aired six weeks later on May 3, 2013.  It would be the last scene that Jeanne Cooper would ever film.

Five days after that scene, Cooper died in a Los Angeles hospital.  She was 84 years old.  And to say that the whole cast was devastated by her passing would be an understatement.

In fact, to pay tribute to the actress and character, the show did two things.  First, the show aired a special one-hour tribute episode in memory of Jeanne Cooper, filled with cast interviews, memorable show moments, and a final goodbye.

And secondly, a brand new set was created in memory of Katherine Chancellor.  A park was erected in the heart of Genoa City and it was fittingly named Katherine Chancellor Park.  As of 2016, the park set is still being used, though in recent shows, the park has been filmed on an outdoor soundstage instead of an indoor one.  You can see characters enjoying the sunshine, characters eating ice cream by the tree planted in memory of Delia Abbott, and a huge plaque honouring Katherine Chancellor.

I'm sure that Mrs. C would be proud. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Guiding Light - The Brent Lawrence/Marian Crane Story

Halloween weekend is coming up very quickly - next week, as a matter of fact.  And since I've decided to come up with a special month of Soap Suds Sundays, I thought that I would use the last two weeks to talk about some of the scariest soap storylines that have ever aired on daytime television.

Well, okay, maybe scary isn't the right word to use.  Campy, ridiculous, and unbelievable, yes.  But I imagine if you were the people who were heavily featured in this week's look back at soaps of yore, you'd probably be scared out of your wits.

First a question for you.  How many of you remember the 1960 film, "Psycho"?  It was the classic Alfred Hitchcock film that starred Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh.  It's the movie infamous for Leigh's character Marion Crane tragically meeting her end in a shower by way of stabbing.  The stabber is Perkins' character of Norman Bates, who kept his mother's deceased corpse hidden away while pretending to be her.  It's a movie that is really screwed up, but brilliant at the same time, and thanks to "Bates Motel", a new generation is being introduced to the macabre mind of Norman Bates.

Well, in 1995, the now cancelled soap opera "Guiding Light" decided to borrow some elements of "Psycho" to tell a story that lasted almost a whole year.  These days, soaps wrap up storylines in less than three months, so this was mighty impressive.  In fact, some may say that the storyline completely ripped off the film right down to character names.  But I think what saved this storyline from being completely farcical was the extreme talent of all the actors who were on the show at that time.  They helped viewers believe that something like that could happen.

This is the story of Brent Lawrence - and by the end of it all, three people would die, three more would almost die, and he would end up in a mental institution for dual identity disorder.  But I'm getting ahead of myself here.  By the way, keep an eye out for links...clicking on them will let you watch part of the story!

Brent Lawrence moved to Springfield in February 1995 to work for Spaulding Enterprises.  His main job was to be an accountant for the company, but really he was hired by Alan Spaulding to do some rather unethical things.  Nothing really major, though.

During the first few weeks of his job, he started to attract the attention of Lucy Cooper, who was working as the secretary of Alan's son, Alan-Michael Spaulding.  Lucy also has developed some feelings towards Alan-Michael, but Alan-Michael didn't seem interested.  As a result, Lucy started to go out with Brent, thinking that it would make Alan-Michael jealous.  But to Lucy's surprise, she found herself developing feelings for Brent, and both of them had some good dates together - including one where both of them were arrested for skinny dipping at the pool in the country club!

Unfortunately, the romance between Brent and Lucy would permanently end just a few weeks later when Brent drugged Lucy's drink and raped her.  And for weeks, Lucy refused to talk to anybody about it because she felt ashamed.  She shut everybody out of her life, including a concerned Alan-Michael.  But Alan-Michael wasn't about ready to give up on Lucy, and he made the decision to visit Lucy at the Springfield Boarding House to find out what was going on.

He arrived just as he overheard Lucy and Brent having a confrontation where Lucy admitted that Brent had raped her.  This sent Alan-Michael into a rage and after he physically assaulted Brent and threw him out of the house, he took Lucy onto his private yacht where she finally summoned the courage to tell Alan-Michael all about the rape.  Alan-Michael also gave Lucy the courage to tell her family about what happened, and her father Buzz and brother Frank (who was a police officer) vowed to protect her from Brent.  Lucy also found a sympathetic shoulder to cry on in Nadine, Buzz's ex-wife, who shared with Lucy her own tale of being raped.

Of course, finding a way to prove that Brent raped Lucy would prove difficult.  Lucy never reported the rape when it first happened, so any DNA evidence would have disappeared long ago.  Alan-Michael was really left on his own to trap Brent himself.  He thought that he could tape Brent confessing the rape, but since the tape couldn't be ruled admissible in court, it would only serve to help Brent instead of hurt him.  Of course, Brent did everything to try and avoid prosecution, even kidnapping a journalist and forcing her to write an editorial about what a great guy he was!

But when Brent returned to taunt Alan-Michael and Lucy armed with a gun, there was a struggle between both men, and Brent ended up getting shot.  When Alan-Michael and Lucy called the police to report the shooting, Brent had disappeared.  He was later found by Alan-Michael and Lucy near death on the docks and he seemed to be remorseful for his actions towards Lucy before he breathed his last breath.

Now, you would think that would be the end of the story, but here's where things get a little bit on the creepy side.  You see, Brent didn't actually die.  With help from his sister, Cassie, and Alan Spaulding, Brent left town and Alan used Brent to usurp control of Spaulding Enterprises away from his own son.  I'm guessing Alan Spaulding never won a father of the year award, huh?

A few months passed, and Lucy began to try and get her life back on track.  She and Alan-Michael grew closer and a real bond of love began to grow between them.  Lucy was concerned that she may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease from Brent when she was raped, and started attending a support group for people who were infected with HIV.  One of those people, Susan Bates, became Lucy's closest friend, and it was through Lucy that Susan began dating Alan-Michael's cousin, Nick McHenry Spaulding.

Lucy also began to get close to a new employee at Spaulding Enterprises - a middle-aged woman who was named Marian Crane.  Lucy and Marian bonded over their experiences, and Marian told Lucy a story about how she herself was raped, and how traumatic the experience was for her.  Lucy soon began to confide everything to Marian.

But what Lucy didn't realize was that Marian was not the woman she thought she was.  Marian Crane was really Brent Lawrence in disguise!  It appears as though Brent was inspired by the film "Mrs. Doubtfire" and secretly dressed himself up as a woman in order to get closer to Lucy so he could plan his revenge.

TRIVIA:  To get prepared for the dual role, actor Frank Beaty - who played Brent/Marian - enrolled in a charm school for men who wanted to be women!  Now that's taking your craft seriously!  And to be fair, he did a phenomenal job in those roles.

But as Brent began to play Marian more and more, he became extremely unhinged, out of touch with reality, and just plain dangerous to be around.  He hacked into the hospital records for Cedars Hospital and changed Lucy's HIV test to a positive result - though Lucy would have a second test done which confirmed that she did not have the virus.  And when Brent tried to rig that test, he was caught in the act by Reva Shayne.  Fortunately for Brent, Reva was living in an Amish paradise when he raped Lucy so he let her go - and yes, I realize what I just typed, but that's another story for another day.

Of course, that's not to say that Brent didn't have it in him to kill people.  Dressed as Marian, he silenced three people permanently.  His first victim was a random stranger named Lucky Fowler who ironically enough tried to rape Marian the same way Brent attacked Lucy! 

His second victim was Nadine, who had suspected that Marian would be in grave danger.  But after Brent/Marian caught Nadine snooping through his belongings, he took a candlestick and beat Nadine to death with it.  He disposed of her body in the water by the docks, thinking that nobody would suspect that she was dead as she had made plans to leave Springfield prior to her death anyway.

His third victim was Detective Patrick Cutter - who never suspected that Marian was Brent Lawrence.  In fact, Cutter tried to go out on a date with Marian!  This lead to some confusion when Cutter tried to write his killer's name in his own blood, but he only got as far as writing the first three letters - which made some suspect that Lucy's friend Marcus Williams was really the culprit.  Fortunately, Marcus was proven innocent not long after.

Still oblivious to the fact that Marian was Brent, Lucy invited her to spend Thanksgiving with her and Alan-Michael, and Marian accepted, thinking that this would be the opportunity to get rid of both Lucy and Alan-Michael once and for all.  But in the midst of sabotaging Alan-Michael's car, Alan-Michael and Lucy accidentally run over Brent!  And you can imagine what sorts of questions the doctors would be asking if they discovered that their female patient was really male.

Certainly, Dr. Rick Bauer was concerned about it, but Marian claimed that she was undergoing gender reassignment surgery and that as a doctor he needed to abide by the patient-doctor confidentiality agreement and not tell anybody.  Rick agreed, and the charade continued.

And poor Susan ended up in the crossfire as Brent tried to kill Susan in - of all places, a bathtub.  Susan managed to avoid getting murdered, but she slipped and fell and hit her head so hard she was unconscious for several days.  Susan would recover from her ordeal, but she wouldn't be able to tell anyone who attacked her until it was too late.

That's because Susan woke up around New Years Eve, and Lucy was kidnapped by Brent at the New Years Eve party at the country club.  Brent held Lucy captive in the old lighthouse (largely abandoned since a fire burned down part of it two years earlier).  It was here that Brent revealed to a horrified Lucy that he killed Lucky, Nadine, and Cutter, and that he tried to kill Susan all while befriending her as Marian.  Lucy also discovered the reason why Brent suddenly went insane.  When Brent was a child, his mother would be verbally and physically abusive towards him, and as a result of this, he found himself becoming unusually violent towards women as a side effect.  While this certainly didn't redeem Brent in Lucy's eyes, Lucy did take advantage of this fact by trying to break down Brent's psyche and pretend that she was his abusive mother.

Of course, Alan-Michael tried to rescue Lucy from Brent but Brent shot him in the arm and kept both of them hostage.  Once Alan and Buzz realized this, they knew they had to work fast before Brent did anything to harm them.  Alan worked out a deal with Brent.  He would give him ten million dollars plus a jet to anywhere in the world he wanted, but he had to let Alan-Michael and Lucy go in exchange.  And thanks to Reva, she managed to follow Brent to the lighthouse and alerted everybody of their whereabouts.

This, of course lead to the epic struggle between Alan-Michael, Lucy, and Brent - and if you click HERE, you can watch the February 15, 1996 episode of "Guiding Light", which featured Brent's takedown.

In the end, Alan-Michael and Lucy were saved, and Brent reverted back to his Marian persona - likely to avoid getting put in jail and instead being housed in a mental asylum for the rest of his life.  We never did see him come back on the show before its cancellation in 2009, so that's the logical conclusion.  And Alan-Michael and Lucy got married at Universal Studios and left the show as a married couple shortly after the show celebrated its 60th anniversary (the show debuted in 1937 on radio).  Sadly, the marriage didn't last, but it was nice to think that they were happy together for a few years.

Now, as far as any lasting repercussions of the Brent/Lucy/Alan-Michael storyline - well, there weren't really any - though the lighthouse was eventually restored and reopened to the public over the next few years.  But during the 1995-96 season, this was one storyline that had just as much fright as there was camp.  And it was one of the main reasons why "Guiding Light" stayed on the air as long as it did.