Daytime invaded prime time on Friday, when YOUNG AND RESTLESS’s Thad Luckinbill (J.T) and Amelia Heinle (Victoria) and BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL’s Lesli Kay (Felicia) visited GHOST WHISPERER to play…soap opera stars! Okay, so Heinle played a college professor — but she was having a secret, long-distance affair with a soap character, and that’s very…er, soapy! The storyline saw the fictional daytime drama Hope’s Edge (you can guess the genesis of that name) set up shop in Grandview for a location shoot. Delia was over the moon with excitement, as was Jim — and even Eli was “outed” as a fan (a superfan, in fact). Only Melinda was clueless about the appeal of daytime. (Which sadly mirrors the real world, where too many young women are not watching.) Luckinbill played Grant Harper, the actor who portrayed hotshot surgeon Dr. Troy Holdon on Hope’s Edge. Kay was his co-star Suzanne Zale, better known for playing Celeste Barrington, and Heinle was Brook Dennis, a professor at Rockland University, where Eli teaches. It turned out that the soap had its genesis in a stage play at Rockland, after an actor was killed onstage. The ghost of that thespian, Miles Maitland was played by Johnny Pacar (ex-Jimmy, AMERICAN DREAMS), and he appeared to be haunting Cally, (Kellie Martin, ex-Lucy, ER), who wrote that stage play and went on to create the soap. Of course, the haunting was not what it appeared to be. This is the standard GW modus operandi, but the truth this week seemed particularly lame — the ghost was afraid that his old pal Grant would not be able to get out of his contract and chase his dreams? So that’s why he haunted Cally’s TV? The explanation sounded like an afterthought, rather than the reason for the entire story.
Whatever, it was a pleasant change to see soaps portrayed relatively normally and accurately. Sure, Jim and Eli’s devotion opened them up to some teasing, but it was more the good-natured, loving kind of ribbing. No fan was portrayed as a psychotic who has lost touch with reality, and there was NO overblown, melodramatic “soap opera” acting (although the line about Troy awaiting Celeste in hell was a bit over-the-top). Instead, the fans were shown to be interested and plugged in to what was happening on their favorite show. One contributor to that: a doppleganger of Weekly appeared: a tabloid magazine called “Soap Opera Daily,” the logo of which resembled Soap Opera Digest very closely. And once Melinda was introduced to the show, she quickly became (tearfully) addicted. I’m sure Jennifer Love Hewitt’s tenure on the prime-time tear-jerker PARTY OF FIVE informed her performance.
Oh, and Melinda found out she’s pregnant with Jim’s baby. Now that’s classic soap opera.