My soapy valentines

We do an incredible amount of bitching, moaning and criticizing in the soap blogosphere. I really wanted to sing a different tune for a while and share some positive energy. Here’s who I’m feeling the love for these days:

JULIE PINSON: I have to admit, I only knew a bit of Julie’s work before she joined As The World Turns. I caught snippets of her on Port Charles and Days of our Lives.

When Janet and Liberty first came to ATWT, I thought we were in for a repeat of All My Children’s Krystal and Babe – e.g., the mother/daughter airtime-eating duo. But Janet (and Liberty) have grown on me tremendously, and in a cast full of strange faces with familiar names (or familiar faces acting awfully strange), Pinson’s Janet is often the warmest character on the scene.

She’s also been given a tremendously clear, consistent character line: She loves her daughter. She’s a deeply spiritual woman. And she will fight to the death for what she believes in. In my opinion, that through-line has done Janet (and Pinson) a lot of favors and made her more likeable.

I may be on Team CarJack, but I’m rooting for Janet. Missing years of a Janet/Carly rivalry is one more reason I’m sad that ATWT ends in September.

SUZANNE ROGERS: There’s a lot to praise these days at Days. The show has managed to survive a bumpy transition and actually grow its audience. Whether you love them or hate them, the characters of Carly and Vivian have given the show a shot in the arm.

And best of all, the show’s using a long-ignored asset and has put Maggie Horton (and Suzanne Rogers) back on the front burner.

Mickey and Maggie were one of the first couples I remember. Maggie was always fascinating – a flawed but warm and funny character – and it was always a joy to see her on screen.

After a long absence we’d been seeing more and more of Maggie over the last few years. But her screen time really picked up after the departure of several other vets. Rogers hasn’t lost one bit of her warmth or the heart that makes Maggie tick. Her scenes mourning the loss of her Mickey were heartbreaking.

RICK HEARST: I’ve been a big fan of Rick Hearst since he assumed the role of Alan-Michael Spaulding on Guiding Light. Hearst was one of those amazing recasts who just own a role they assume, and he did so only weeks after coming on board.

Since then, he’s appeared on several daytime shows. He returned to The Bold and the Beautiful after several years on General Hospital. I’m loving Whip because his humor and his ease at dealing with the people in his world is a welcome contrast to the intensity of Bill Spencer, as well as the complete idiocy and self-absorption of Ridge Forrester.

The Jones family (Whip, Agnes and Oliver) are a really promising part of B&B and one that I hope grows in prominence. And Rick’s sexy, confident portrayal of Whip anchors those characters and that story. (Ironic that Hearst’s cousin Oliver is played by Zack Conroy, who was his nephew, sorta, on GL.)

The most impressive thing about Hearst’s performance is his range. He has chemistry with everyone (the scenes with Hearst and Susan Flannery were delicious). He can be flirty with Taylor. (Though dude, seriously: Could you not find a woman that hasn’t been married to – or defiled by – icky Ridge?) He’s sensitive and concerned about troubled Sandy/Aggie. And he can be tenacious and strong in business dealings with the Jackie M crew and the Spencer/Forrester crowd.

Daytime needs to find more leading men who can play it all, keep the audience interested, and drive story for years. Rick Hearst is the kind of actor you give a leading role to, folks!

JONATHAN JACKSON: I haven’t watched General Hospital on any consistent basis for years. Anyone who’s read this blog knows I don’t do darkness, misogyny or mobsters.  The last time I was immersed in Port Charles was when it came to life under the pen of Claire Labine.

I loved the whole Luke/Laura/Lucky return to PC and that whole Labine-era GH was the time I remembered most fondly. So I was optimistic when I heard that Jonathan Jackson was returning to the role of Lucky.

It seemed like such odd timing. Why now? The answer came a few weeks ago, when Lucky discovered that Liz had been sleeping with Nikolas. Jackson gave a bravura performance that will be remembered for years to come, right up there with Karen-Wolek-on-the-stand and Reva-in-the-fountain. The combination of the inherent drama of the story, and the fact that Jackson had such a history with these two characters and actors, took what would have been a solid scene with any of Lucky’s other performers and made it extraordinary.

I’m cautiously optimistic that GH’s recent moves away from darkness will continue to make the show more watchable. And the warm, vulnerable Lucky – as played by the actor who originated the role – has been a big part of that.

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