ABC presents the epic “mother of all daytime soap battles”. It’s General Hospital vs. General Hospital! I regret to inform you that at this moment, General Hospital is losing! As with Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, when it comes to GH:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
Melodramatic much? On occasion, yes. Yes I am. Best of times? When? Where?
I get where you’re coming from, but bear with me, please.
The best of times, unfortunately, comes in infinitesimally smaller doses than do the worst of times. The dark mostly swallows the light, and despair too often triumphs over hope… but still, there are moments like these that remind me of the best of GH as it is now, without having to dig into the archives of the GH of the 80s and 90s:
Robin and Patrick’s participation in Karaoke Night was especially poignant for me because 1 – Even if only for a short time, our SCRUBS get to be the example of a couple that is as close to perfect as any (non mob-related) GH couple can be. I’m sure they’ll have stiff competition when Mac and Alexis finally make it off the ground and when Maxie and Spinelli finally get it right, but right now they add a pretty glorious shine to this show ; 2 – I miss the Nurses’ Ball and I think this is a small scale way of giving us what the Nurses’ Ball did. It lets the audience get closer to the show’s characters. The karaoke scenes humanize the characters and reminds us that they do more than sneak around with one another’s husbands and wives. It’s a great compromise almost making up for the absence of the Nurses Ball -very clever; 3 – These sort of scenes give fans the opportunity to appreciate the additional talents of the show’s actors. I also appreciate the courage it takes for each of them to step out of their traditional roles. No criticisms from me! I thought they were all magnificent.; 4 – They’re just FUN! There are so few GH scenes that are FUN. Most of them are about death, betrayal, hatred, jealousy, adultery, and many other vices. It’s nice to watch GH and just smile on occasion.
How adorable were Morgan and Molly? How funny is it that in that room full of women, of those who weren’t his children – at least half of them has been in bed with and/or impregnated by Sonny Corinthos?… and by funny I mean ‘pathetic’… That brings us to:
The Worst of Times
Forgive my opining (nay whining) over the current state of General Hospital, but I’ve experienced my first true soap heartbreak – one that had nothing to do with the cancellation of a beloved show, that is. I’ve said, previously, that I’m done with GH, DONE! KAPUT! FINISHED! FINITO! For the most part that’s been true. I did watch Liz run to Luke’s to beg Lucky to return to her. I watched Ethan and Lucky chatting about Liz and enjoyed the flashbacks of a young LL2, even if I did feel as if I’d been kicked in the soft tissue watching the clips of a very young Liz and Lucky declaring their love. I miss who they were to each other. I got the writers message to the fans, via Lucky’s dialogue, about seeing people as they are now and not how you use to know them. Bite me. I’ll never see LL2 as having ‘moved on’. They’ll forever be viewed by me as having been destroyed by the writers’ reckless impulses and self-indulgent excesses.
I was annoyed by the writers use of Liz’s rape as part of the casual conversation between Lucky and Ethan – the brother Lucky barely knows. It was both a sacred moment (to LL2) and profane moment (on the part of Liz’s attacker) that began their relationship. It was all reduced to drunken banter and gossip by two people who could have just as easily been strangers.
Outside of those scenes, I know that I’m not missing much. Basic daytime storylines in daytime haven’t changed – just the players and the severity of characters’ reactions to events in their lives. There’s clearly no possibility of missing anything ‘big’ by largely tuning out this show or any other daytime program. It’s not like there will be major revolutions in daytime storytelling any time soon! (Get it? Dickens? Tale of Two Cities? Revolutions?)
Finally: Belief vs. Incredulity
I thought back to the situation that caused me to want to fully walk away from both General Hospital and the entire genre of daytime. When Dante refused to tell the police that Sonny shot him, I was stunned. In that one moment, the writers’ deconstructed a potentially marvelous character and destroyed the beautiful and inspiring backstory they’d created for him. This past year we had a reason to believe that it just might be possible that the writers would bring a true hero back to GH, one in the same vein of Mac Scorpio, Anna Devane, Robert Scorpio, Sean Donnelly, Frisco and Felicia Jones, the entirety of the WSB). That’s now gone. I never expected Dante to send Sonny to prison – no one ever has no matter how guilty he was. I just never expected him to cave to the magic of Sonny’s mojo so quickly. With a different set of paternal DNA and a uterus, Dante would have borne Sonny another child by now.
As if ignoring the ‘attempted cop killer’ charge wasn’t enough, Dante commented that he thought Olivia, who’d become pregnant at 15 (rewrite?), slept around so much that she didn’t know WHO his father was. <gasp> That line left me feeling utter revulsion for the character. Whatever the case, he was angry at her for not telling him sooner that Sonny was his father. Sonny “attempted cop killer” Corinthos was also angry at her and blamed Dante’s near death on her decades long lie.
“W-T-F”, I thought. I’m sure the writers, who must be bored writing the bi-annual “Who’s the Daddy?”) storyline for Sonny and his small village filled with offspring, must have thought they were writing a unique twist on yet another telling of that storyline. That ‘twist’ reads more like ‘twisted’ and this storyline deserves comparison to other Who’s the Daddy? storylines, when the good guys really were good.
I thought about the clip I’d posted of Robert, Robin, and Anna, in a prior blog:
I know that there are significant differences:
1. Robin was an adorable child. Dante is an “angry” adult male (even if his anger truly is righteous).
2. Robert knew early on that Robin was his child. Sonny didn’t find out until it was ‘too late’.
3. Robin wasn’t sent to try to destroy Robert. Dante was. For whatever reason, some see justifiable anger in Sonny’s attempt to kill Dante, the cop, for doing his job. It seems plausible to accept the argument that Sonny would never have tried to kill Dante if he’d known that Dante was his son.
If the writers are consistent, I can’t say that I believe that the above assertion is true. Sonny was more than willing to hurt his own brother when he thought he could justify it, or if he felt the need to save himself over Ric. Sonny never gave a damn for Ric, the person who shared his DNA. I can only believe that the writers would have been consistent and gone the ‘Lansing Route’ had they decided to have Dante found out without having Sonny shoot him. We would have then been treated to ‘dead to me’ scenes between the father and son, with Dante working like a mad dog to make amends for having the audacity to hate crime and criminals now that he knows he’s genetically linked to a mob boss.
In the end, the issue isn’t really about the difference between Robin and Dante as the long lost children of high profile Port Chuckles citizens. It’s about the differences between writing teams, and the radically different approaches they’ve taken to trying to get the audience to buy into newly developed families. The GH writing team of the 80s wrote for a real hero and wrote for real emotions. I can’t tell you what the current writing team writes for. For it it feels as if they’re writing for a hopelessly lost villain that they continue to want to sell as a hero and writing cheap ploys masquerading as real emotions. The legacy of the introduction of characters like Anna, Robert, and Robin is that fans still want MORE of their story. There’s are still stories to be told that have the ability to help fans recall the old GH – when light pushed back the darkness, hope triumphed over despair, and we had everything before us. I don’t think we can say the same for current storylines.