General Hospital – Shattering the “soap ceiling”

GH Port Charles EveningNot a soap fan? Then you have probably been conditioned to view the genre as the product of melodramatic plots made even sillier by scene chewing acting.  If you watched daytime in its lean years (or lean decades), you wouldn’t be too far from wrong.  I say that as a soap fan who still hangs her head in shame while recalling some of daytime’s very worst efforts.

If you are unfortunate enough to have never watched a soap but somehow managed to catch yesterday’s General Hospital (#GeneralHospital #GH), what you witnessed was daytime breaking the “soap ceiling”.  The Luke’s Childhood reveal isn’t a “daytime plot”.  It’s prime time, big screen, the theater,  or all of the above.  It was so well crafted and so beautifully executed that the writers have set an impossibly high standard for any genre that wants to use this same storyline to a similar effect. It also sets an incredibly high standard for the show, beyond this storyline.  Where can you go after this reveal? I don’t know but if this storyline is the evidence for where daytime is headed, in general, and GH in particular, I am a happy viewer

Rarely have soap writers been as successful as  and crew in reminding us that soaps are about drama, not melodrama.  They are about human emotions and experiences, not special effects and outlandish plots.  When soaps are at their best, they make you forget that you are suspending disbelief and instead leave you feeling as if you are surreptitiously watching people you know.  You have become the nosy neighbor, peeking through your neighbors windows and learning far more than you ever believed was possible.  You have learned more than you want to know, and still less than you should.  It is the latter feeling that keeps you coming back.

General Hospital’s writers took all of daytime – past, present and future, along for a master class, yesterday.  Tony Geary, as Luke Spencer, breathed life into a powerfully written script that made fictional Luke’s pain as real as any emotion the viewer has felt. In one beautifully crafted episode which was supported by more than a year of plot twists and turns, we understood more about Luke Spencer than we’ve been able to understand in decades of viewing him in action. Fans only thought they knew Luke Spencer.  The Shakespearean act of Luke accidentally killing his mother, and intentionally killing his father on the same night, laid bare his soul:

Tragedy

Was it the boy who accidentally killed his helpless mother who:

— seemed unable to love his children in the way they needed to be loved? Luke has always taken a back seat to their daily care and was, at best, emotionally distant from his children.  Yet, he was also the first one on the scene when they were in danger.  He loved his children, but always seemed fearful of being too close to them. He was more friend than father. Was he afraid that a deeply emotional engagement would flip the switch and turn him into his father? Tim warned Luke that he would one day see his father’s face staring back at him in the mirror.  He warned Luke that they were the same person.  The horror!

— could not embrace Carly, long after Bobbie had forgiven her?   Is it that Carly reminded him too much of the mother he loved?  Was Carly’s behavior an affront to Lena’s memory, or had he wished that Lena was strong, like Carly, and able to fight back against a tyrant like Tim? Did Carly’s behavior make him wonder if his mother would be there with him, had she not been so afraid of her worthless husband?

— faulted Laura for  her “weakness” in the presence of the Cassadines?  Better than anyone else, Luke knew what it meant for a woman to be rendered powerless by a monster far less evil than the Cassadine clan.  Was he angry at Laura for fearing him (as Lena feared Tim) and not being able / willing to tell him the truth about Nikolas?  Did it remind him that he was, at least once in their shared history, the monster Tim said he would become?

Tim ScreamingWas it the boy who intentionally killed his abusive father that led Luke to:

— begin his relationship with Laura in a way that was nothing short of abusive and violent, resulting in him raping her?

— become an anti-hero who could never truly commit to standing on one side of the law because the circumstances of his parents’ deaths made it clear that he was neither hero nor villain? Luke has always had one foot on the right side of the law with the other far beyond the boundary.

— tolerate the likes of Sonny and other dark souls because he, at an unconscious level, knew his soul was darkened by this secret, as well?

— avoid romantic relationships all together?  How could Luke truly commit to any woman without the specter of the family’s abuse tainting every moment of happiness?  His relationship with Tracy has been the most serious relationship he has experienced since Laura.  Is it the thought of being in a committed relationship too much for him?  Was his happiness with Tracy the catalyst in triggering the D.I.D?

I am looking forward the writers addressing the impact of Luke’s secrets on how has lived his life.  This one episode, decades in the making, more than a year in revealing, and 60 minutes in playing out, as moved me in a way I have rarely been moved by any soap.  Today, this soap fan is hanging her head high!

All I want from the writers is MORE!  Please!

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General Hospital: To every point there is a counterpoint!

It’s no secret that I think General Hospital is blowing the rest of daytime out of the water!  I said so here –> Why You Should Be Watching General Hospital.  I received a very interesting counterpoint from writer, Ilona Saari.  (More about Ilona at the end of this post).  I thought the response was so interesting that I’d like to share it with you.  It’s a different kind of GH love letter:

I only wish I thought the show was as good as you do. But I’m glad to see it from you prospective. Granted, it is far superior to the Pratt/Guza Penthouse 4 years, but when Guza took back the reigns, it began to get better w/ humor (Diane was created), wonderful returns of old characters (Robin) and wonderful pairings (Scrubs) – his problem as a writer was that he would come up w/ great story ideas and beginnings, then develop ADD and not be able to follow thru… Wolf, the strike scab, was just a plain disaster… Then Ron and Frank came, and at first they did wonders and I loved the integration of the OLTL characters.

But, alas, that didn’t last as OLTL-ABC and Frank/Ron became embattled in copyright garbage and egos. The show suffered as Ron hadn’t a clue had to deal w/ it all storywise, so it was dealt w/ badly. The lst return of the Nurse’s Ball was an unmitigated disaster w/ a cheezy set that looked like the ball was being held in a church basement to the embarrassment of Richard Simmons.

Then when the OLTL mess was over, Ron decides to bring back Roger as Franco. God Lord, that was an insane creative choice. This wonderful actor could have been anyone… a new Q, a Cassadine, a Webber or Spencer even a white Ward… but nooooo. The brain tumor explanation was just plain lazy writing. And Carly would never, ever be w/ Franco after what happened to Michael.

Letting Jax go, the last white knight really (except for Patrick) was a huge mistake – Carly and Jax could have grown into the Rachel/Mac of AW of GH… They were a mature, sexy, dynamic couple, imo. Carly was softened, but not made soft, by her love for Jax.

Bringing Nik back, however, was a smart move and his love affair w/ Britt (and her redemption) has been the best thing about GH since the show fell back into disrepair during last year’s Nurse’s Ball.

The Cassadine/Obrecht/Faison/Duke/Anna stuff was was too cartoonish and has fallen totally flat for me as a writer – Masks, masks everywhere. I’m sorry – once was enough – then again w/ Anna and Obrecht? Oy. And now what – again w/ fLuke – I hope not. But this fLuke storyline is just cringe-worthy tho I’m sure TG is having a ball. If he’s really Bill Eckart or Damian Smith, as rumor has it, neither would be jonzing after Kiki or be so creepy a sexual predator… If it’s Damian – did he have his face made like Luke if he survived the fire? Is it yet another mask? I don’t care. I FF thru all TG’s scene and have never done so before – ever. I just want Ron to stop writing Tracy as an old, lonely woman who will believe anything to keep Luke – and just end this miserable story. Tracy and Luke are dynamite together — this story is just an embarrassment to all involved. But at least I got to see Ned. I wish Frank would bite the bullet and bring back Ned. I don’t want the Qs to vanish — they are our look into John Cheever country, always have been, and I love that family – but all recent head writers of the show seem to want to demolish them… and now Ron is building up a new “core” mob family w/ the Jeromes.

I won’t even go into Obrecht and how I also find her existence at the head of the hospital one of the laziest pieces of writing Ron has done.

I do love Julian and Ava, tho — again for many, many reasons and I love that Julian is Sam and Lucas’ father – fun. I hated the courtship w/ Alexis tho where she was flirty like a teenage virgin. What a waste of Alexis. Tho now that they’re together, I like their chemistry. I just hope the writing becomes more interesting on how these two will work.

I am also thrilled that Ric’s back, tho his relationship w/ Liz never cut it with me. His courtship and marriage to Alexis til Guza ruined Ric did. Their bantering and love was GH’s version of Tracy/Hepburn and I loved them together. That said, I do not want a Nik/Liz rerun – I want Nik and Britt to find their way back to each other — they are very hot together.

I did think Jordan was undercover from the beginning, but I do like her addition to the show as long as Ron is not setting her up to replace Anna because he wants to get rid of Finola.

Levi is another embarrassment. Obrecht and Donna Mills being sisters,, etc., etc. Say what??? Trying to make another instant family w/ Nathan and Britt and Obrecht at the expense of who?

The show is bloated w/ characters and no one was more mistreated than Sean Kanan — Ron so botched his return and decided to throw AJ under the bus much the way Guza did after AJ had become such a fascinating “Sidney Carton” character well on his way to redemption. The killing of AJ was a disappointment and only serves to give MB more angst moments and a shot at an Emmy. But then to let the story just dangle somewhere in space for weeks, again – sloppy, lazy writing.

Ron does that a lot. He starts a story and then you’re left for weeks til it becomes part of the canvas again. He doesn’t seem to know how to write the three story arc traditional in soaps in a weekly fashion, so if a viewer doesn’t like one story, s/he gets a bit of the ones s/he does like on a weekly basis.

Sabrina and Patrick are a mess as a storyline… and her character has been shoved down our throat for too long – she’s a dolt and a bore and she’s dragged the character of Patrick down w/ her. And Carrrrrrlos. Don’t get me started.

Thank God Maxie’s back! Our own Carole Lombard — is Nathan her Clark? He might be. he has the look. And I love the way he looks at her.

Duke, OTOH, is a yawn. Anna has no chemistry w/ him anymore. Robert should have been the one to stay at GH, not Duke. And Robert in this disaster of a fLuke story, might have saved it.

Well, if you’ve read this far – I will end on an ‘up’ note. I still love GH — and do think the show’s better now than a few years ago — and I think it’s getting better again from all the mistakes Ron made last year… and I agree about the diversity — It’s been seamless and I love that. It’s about time.

 

Ilona Saari  is a former speechwriter, deputy press secretary, and is the author of the political thriller Freeze Frame, available on Amazon.  FYI, you Foodies out there, our author also writes her own blog featuring the most amazing recipes and travel adventures you’ll find anywhere!  Read more at “My Dinners with Richard“.  It’s more than worth your time – I believe you’ll thank me for it!

While Ilona and I  may not agree 100%,  I love having such a well seasoned, meaty, opinion to give me something  to think about.   I’d like to thank my talented friend for keeping my feet on the ground, because I do love GH enough to put my blinders on and keep lowing it “as is”.  Complacency kills in any creative field.

Shhhh… don’t tell her, but I still think that this show is the best in daytime.

GH: May 27, 2014

My thoughts on today’s show?

  • Sabrina… I just can’t.  I want to be empathetic, and yet I just keep hoping there aren’t too many Sabrina/Patrick scenes to fast foward.
  • Elizabeth and Ric?  Sweet, Subtle, feels so real.  I love them.  Given the way Ric left the show with each exit, it’s sometimes difficult to remember how sweet and kind he’s capable of being.  Ric is Mr. Right Now, Mr. Right Tomorrow, and Mr. Right Whenever-Wherever – as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve always loved Rick Hearst best when he was playing a romantic lead (GH’s Ric Lansing, GL’s Alan Michael Spaulding, BnB’s Whipple Jones).
  • Lulu/Dante./Rocco- Big Ben? Ditto.  Sweet, Subtle, Real.  Given his pedigree, I love that Dante is so protective of Ben that he doesn’t want to talk about the worst of the worst aspects of his job. He has to spell out D-E-A-D because he doesn’t want Rocco to hear the word. Keep that baby away from your father and bar ware, Dom.
  • F’luke and his disregard for forensic evidence is astounding.  He never wears gloves.  He never does anything in hiding.  Unless he planned on killing Bobbie and the cutie pants officer guarding Lucas’ door,  what was the point of attempting to kill Lucas while being the last person in the room?  Add that the fact that his hand and finger prints are all over Lucas’ breathing tube – as his prints are all over the gun that was used to shoot Lucas and kill the hitman.  F’luke’s crime spree is getting stranger and and stranger, and I hope that’s intentional – serving as an indicator that he’s on a rampage and will soon be caught.
  • Ava.. F’LOVE… I effin’ love Ava and the writing for her!  She utters the words, “Mr. Corinthos is sending someone for me” to her server at about the time Carly is going to play audio evidence of her guilt in Connie/Kate’s murder?  Methinks she’ll see Sonny,  in person.
  • Carly has never had a respect for the law, decency, morality or ethics, but it shocks me that she would steal AJ’s phone (yeah, it still shocks me) and give Sonny the info, rather turn the recording over to the police.  Sonny is going to end up in prison one way or another.  He’s either going for killing AJ or for killing Ava.  Carly doesn’t always know what crimes Sonny has committed, but she’s been in his life long enough to know that he’s almost never innocent.  Her involvement in pointing Sonny in Ava’s direction is reckless, no matter what.
  • Ava is a beast… she’s reading “Crimson Magazine”? She is a beast (and I’m not quite sure how I mean that.  It’s both good and bad.)  She must really like dancing on Connie’s grave!  This is Maura West as ATWT’s Carly Tenney, defiling the sacred Snyder pond by flicking a cigarette into it.  What is it about MW’s bad girl characters, who seem to like sticking it to the people she hurts.  No cardboard cut out of Connie for target practice?  Ava is showing some restraint.
  • I get it… my beloved Scotty Baldwin is the AJ Quartermaine of the Baldwin family.  He’s a perennial screw up, but even he should have held his ground and been willing to call Julian’s bluff rather than had him set free.  Scotty is capable of being a bad ass, when he wants (that is, when the writers let him). I wish this was one of those times.  How much has Julian changed when he’s willing to pull a gut punch like this one?  I realize that he was desperate to get to Lucas and saved him from Fluke, but had he told the truth, he could have done more for his family.  His behavior makes me question Alexis’ judgement even more – both as a mother and as a woman.  For all of her warnings to Molly about being smart, making good choices, putting her future first, Alexis does none of these things when she’s in love with her latest mob kingpin boyfriend.   What can Molly learn from her?  It also doesn’t make sense that Shawn was irredeemable for not being able to leave Sonny’s organization and yet Julian is far worse.

 

 

  • More Sabrina/Patrick/Emma/baby Drake? Still can’t.
  • Ava trying to convince anyone, most especially her own daughter, of her innocence is hilarious!  Kiki chastising Ava for sleeping with her boyfriend’s father is even funnier!  Adding Ilene Kristen as Ava’s mother to this pair?  That is a stroke of genius.
  • HA, that Carly finally notes that A.J. is not AJ Quartermaine but Ava Jerome.  Sonny realizes that AJ was pleading for his life and that he’s killed an innocent man.  How will the writers redeem him?  Can Sonny be redeemed after this?  My guess is that we will find out that Sonny didn’t deliver the final blow. It’s another Fluke murder (again taking place in the hospital) or someone else has taken A.J.’s life when he should have been on the mend.  The problem is that A.J. would never have been in the hospital to be murdered if it weren’t for Sonny.  The additional step they’ll have to take is to convince the audience that A.J. was slated for death no matter where he was found.  Will it work, or is it possible that the writers have gone too far, this time?   A.J. has rarely been a chaacter i liked or loved (I couldn’t stomach Billy Warlock’s portrayal of the character) BUT he was a legacy character and I wish he’d survived this ugly attack.
  • Even when Sonny is dead wrong, Carly tells him to stop blaming himself.  Is this goober serious?  She’s angrier at Ava for upsetting Sonny than she is at Sonny for killing an innocent AJ?  Michael should stop sending Mother’s Day cards. No phone calls, no Mother’s Day luncheons.  Carly is more of a partner to Sonny, even separated, than she has ever been a mother to any of her children.
  • Geez, it seems like such a small issue – Lulu wanting to carry her own child, but it is potentially,  so big.  Lulu is willing to risk losing the only shot (for now) she and Dante have at having another child, because she wants to carry the child herself, knowing the risk for miscarriage.  Is it simply natural to want to carry a child at any cost or is it selfish?  It’s a question for this couple to answer, but I have to wonder, given Dante’s lean toward surrogacy, if this is an issue that will come between them, later.
  • Fluke, threatening babies.  PLEASE let that bastard be caught soon.  Sure, go after Ava, but the threats against children make me want to see this guy get his!  The writers were brilliant to have Fluke play on Julian’s insecurities (most notably, the fear that Anna hates “Jules” and wants to bring him down so badly that he shouldn’t count on her for help.  There’s no way Anna would allow Fluke, or anyone else, to kill Julian while he’s in her care, but he doesn’t know that.
  • Elizabeth and Ric are my shelter from the storm of crazy that is GH.  Just watching them joke and plan for a dinner feels like a romantic getaway.  I know there will have to be some sort of conflict, soon, such as Liz wanting Nik back the minute he’s together with Britt again, happy and probably planning a family.  For now, I’ll take what I can get.
  • Ok, the only interesting thing about Sabrina and Patrick is that Drake becomes her son’s middle name?  Is that a subtle tell that he is Patrick’s son?  Is baby Gabriel going to make it?  Gabriel Drake Drake?  I dunno.
  • Ava thinks that she and Sonny are on decent terms.  I can’t wait to see her run into Sonny’s arms, thinking he’s there to rescue her.  Carly asking Sonny what he’s going to do is as maze dull as anyone could be.   She gave her “snitches get stitches” speech to Sonny when explaining why she would never go to the police.  What was the point of her asking Sonny what he was going to do. Of COURSE he is going to kill Ava.  Is there any doubt about that?  Isn’t that why he killed AJ?  His belief that AJ killed Connie?   Carly and Sonny have played this game for too long!

Like many of you, my feed was disrupted by the President’s comments and ending the war in Afghanistan – so we end, here, and move on to other important news.  I will see you again, soon.

Why you should be watching General Hospital

…if you’re not already a fan!  If you think this blog reads like a love letter to #GH, you’re damned right it is!  This show is not just good, it is the best it has been in a very long time!  Why should you watch?  I could give you as many reasons as there are cast members, but here are my big four:

1 – Balance, balance, and more balance.  

When I last walked away from General Hospital as a consistent viewer, lead and supporting characters were one of three types: Mobsters, Mob Molls, or Mob affiliated. Having more than 35 years invested in this soap, I can remember when the show was about family drama and intrigue, romance and mystery.  I see so much more of that now than before the mob takeover.  Ric Lansing is back and he’s sworn off his former mob ties.  At least for now, the story is that he has come back  to reconnect with the only woman who ever truly loved him and who wasn’t looking for a life on the edge.  Hell, he WAS the edge the last time he and Elizabeth were together.  In scenes that I love like sunshine, we also see him back and reconnecting with his daughter Molly, whose only father figure has been  her uncle and Ric’s brother, Sonny Corinthos.  Keep in mind that Sonny was also her mother’s former lover, the father of one of her sisters, and the former lover of another sister.  The mob was so well integrated into the show that even family members were sleeping with and having children with the same mob boss (yeah, yeah, Sam didn’t know that Alexis was her mother, at the time).  Bigger twist?  Sam’s  child with Sonny is delivered stillborn and provides the stem cells that Kristina, his daughter with Alexis, needs to survive.

You need a truckload of Advil and at least 12 of your 14 vacation days to pull apart the twisted family tree GH writers created in order to sell the mob storyline.

The mob had become so important that even Justus Ward, whose family was made up of  prominent social activists in the Port Chuckles community, became another mob mouthpiece.  He eventually lost his life and was stuffed in the trunk of a car, as a result of his affiliation with Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan (Jason being a cousin to Justus).  It lacked dignity and was shockingly bad given the history of the Ward family.   The Ward family was part of the extended Quartermaine family but respected in their own right before the Q connection.  Prior to the writers’ belief that “mob magic” was so potent that fans would root for almost all characters to fall under the spell of Sonny and the various mob kingpins, I had hope that Justus, as the remaining onscreen Ward family member, would be spared.

The ultimate betrayal of fan trust came, for me, when Jasper “Jax” Jacks was deconstructed, transitioning from an educated ruthless billionaire corporate raider, to a man on the run from both Sonny’s empire of aggression and from the law for daring to protect his and Carly’s duaghter, Josslyn.  From what you ask?  From living her life in the path of a stray bullet that was almost as likely to take her life, as the bullet that put big brother Michael Corinthos in a coma – stealing his childhood and most of his adolescence. Michael spent years, after waking up, dealing with recovering from that stray bullet.  The bullet and resulting coma pushed his childhood kidnapping out of contention as the worst thing to ever happen to him.  Damn that Jasper Jacks for not realizing that kidnapping and bullets to the head can be character builders for children, not just childhood trauma!

Now? That sort of storytelling appears to be long gone!  Even the introduction of Parry Shen’s “Brad” is not a celebration of mob life.  Brad Cooper is the son, and grandson, of 80’s Asian Quarter mob kingpins.  Brad enters as a (mostly) upstanding citizen, barely shadier than the rest of Port Chuckles’ residents.  For now he has sworn off his mob family history and is a GH physician.  It was touch and go at the beginning of his introduction, but he is currently in the same hot mess so many of our PC citizens find themselves in.  Instead of mob molls and mob affiliated characters, we’re back to honest business leaders, police officers who aren’t on the take, as well as (and this will surprise you) drama at General Hospital that is about the hospital, nurses, and the doctors! Shocking, I know.

Even more shocking? I find myself liking Sonny, more, now that the GH universe is no longer centered around canonizing GH’s resident mob boss.  There are many stories to be told in Port Charles and the writers are making sure they tell as many of them as they can.

F’Love

2.  Diversity is a real thing on GH and not just something the cool kids are trying.

From the Asian Quarter, to Tom and Simone Hardy, to the introduction of the Ward family followed by Miguel/Lily/Sonny, GH has struggled with integrating diverse characters into the show in a way that is neither stereotypical nor exaggerated.  The Ward family marks, for me, GH’s first real, and nearly successful, attempt at getting it right, including the Jason/Keisha/AJ triangle:

Now?  Diversity on GH is not about check boxes and clunky integration. Diversity just IS on this show, it’s organic. Characters aren’t remarkable/ good/ evil/frontburner, because they can be used to show that daytime is finally catching up with the rest of the world.  Diverse characters and their families on GH aren’t getting airtime for the publicity they bring a show.  They are seamlessly integrated into the show and their time spent on air is character driven, not storyline driven!  Their lives are about the characters themselves and not about the reaction of others around them.

Brad/Felix/Lucas.  Like any triangle, there are winners and losers.  Both Felix and Lucas have been betrayed by Brad, so watching them grow closer feels right.  The writers have handled this one perfectly.  I want Felix and Lucas to become a real couple, but like any couple brought together out of betrayal and hurt feelings, I have to wonder if either (or both) will end up waking up one morning wanting Brad back.  While that would crush my love for Felix and Lucas – which I will survive, I know that I can accept it because it is no different than what takes place with any other triangle.  I am thrilled that their storyline  isn’t about helping any of the three overcome bigotry-inflicted shame, and that it’s not about being closeted and fearful.  There is a time and place for that type of storytelling, but there is also room for the stories of others -those whose sexuality is not about morbid fascination from the outside.  Brad/Felix/Lucas are telling a story about conflict, love, anger and forgiveness. I am impressed.

Jordan/Shawn. I’ll admit it.  I’m on record stating that the glow Jordan gives is not a halo but hellfire.  I thought that Shawn would have been smart to run in the opposite direction whenever he saw Jordan coming.  I was wrong.  I was SO VERY wrong.  What I love most about Jordan and Shawn, is that their storyline is almost 30 years in the making.  Do they remind you of anyone else?  For me Jordan/Shawn/TJ are the 2000s version of Anna/Robert/Robin.  It’s not an exact retelling, but it’s close enough.  I have been longing for a return to the WSB and it’s glory days and GH is giving it to me by the bucket full… it’s just a little more understated.  Jordan/Anna comes to town with a shady past and possibly sketchier future.  Instead Jordan/Anna is DEA/WSB and the other big issue she has on her plate, one that fills her time when she’s not bringing down bad guys, is dealing with a child (TJ/Robin) whose life has been shrouded by a huge secret.

The focus isn’t on what they bring to the table as “people of color”, it’s what they bring to the table as people.  Each individual is layered and nuanced and the minute you think you know any of the members of this family, a new layer is peeled away.  At her introduction, the audience asked:  Was Jordan back to seduce Shawn and force him to take her in as he’d taken in TJ?  Was she back to reclaim her beloved son?  Was she using her son to cover her shady connection to the Jeromes?  Just when we couldn’t figure out her game, she’s revealed as a DEA agent, in town to clean up PC and find the real drug kingpin.  STOP NOW!

If this storyline and this show gets any better, I’ll be looping it all day long and ignoring all other entertainment.  Jordan’s story now makes me question Shawn, in particular, and now I wonder what the rest of his story is.  Jordan, the DEA agent, would surely never have entrusted the care of her beloved son to a man who was a killer.  What does she know about Shawn that either he is hiding or that doesn’t know about himself because someone else is hiding the truth from him?

I can’t wait to find out.

3.  Women as diversity? Yes.  Women who are strong?  Hell yes!

Tracy Q., Carly, and Alexis are, for the moment, in a downward shame spiral, in my opinion.  I can accept that more easily, at this time, because they are the exception, no longer the rule.  The women of GH have become strong, smart, and capable of standing on their own.  Are they perfect?  No, but they’re so far ahead of where the women of this show were just a few short years ago.

They’ve transitioned from being either dedicated mob molls (Carly, Robin, Kate/Connie, Olivia) or paid mob mouthpieces (Alexis, Diane).  In some cases, they were both (again, Alexis and Diane).

No matter which side of morality/decency/the law we find them, I am thrilled to see Anna, Jordan, Ava, Lucy, Felicia, Britt, Obrecht, Lulu, and others being treated as women with hearts AND brains!  There will be a time, I’m sure, when the currently weak GH women, and, yeah – I’m looking at YOU Tracy Quartermaine, will step up to the plate and become strong again, but the balance of women in distress with women taking charge is refreshing.

There have been times when women on GH have felt more like window dressing than people.  This is not one of those times.

4. There are almost no weak links on this show, currently.

I’m just not crazy about Sabrina and Patrick. I can’t see a situation that would cause me to root for them as a couple.  They simply fall flat for me.  Even still, I don’t see them as a “weak link”.  I can see what the show’s fans like about them.  I just don’t feel it.  Sabrina and Carlos, I get.  Sabrina with Patrick feels more ike “Flowers in the Attic’ or “Petals in the Wind” than a romantic couple ,for me.

I truly despise Carly and Franco. I cannot understand the writers’ thinking in trying to reform Franco and in making him a frontburner character.  Somehow, it feels to me as if Franco should still be a character in the shadows or, more importantly, not a viable character at all.  I will accept the very few things I dislike about this show and continue to enjoy those things I love most.  GH is currently the only show on the air that I can say that about – a show whose positives far outweigh its negatives.

If you haven’t been watching GH, you’re missing a lot!  It’s that good.

 

ABC – A Tale of Two Soaps

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.

Contracts: Read the fine print.

Guiding Light

Is there some secret clause in Gina Tognoni’s contract that requires her character to be paired with every angry young male character in Peapack-Springfield?

If there is, maybe her agent will fine tooth comb the next contract and take that sucker out.

A close friendship with Remy, lust with Jon Randall, lust (causing a sense of disgust and revulsion from fans) when paired with Grady Foley, and now Shayne Lewis.  Me thinks this is a variation on a theme… STOP… stop now!  It’s only a shock to me that she hasn’t been paired with Alan – the ‘mature’ version of her crush on pathologically bad boys (excluding Remy from that group).

What does this mean for Shayne?  If he’s paired with Dinah, the writers are setting the guy up to head down a dark dark path.  If that’s the case, let’s hope the ride there is fun.  It would be a pity because Shayne came back a heroic figure.  I’d hate to see him dragged down a dark path for Dinah’s sake.

With Tognoni’s bankable ability to play a romantic lead, I’m hoping it’s more the case that Shayne is back to pull Dinah out of the dark abyss she’s fallen into since Bill has rejected her attempts to make him the center of her universe.  I’d love to see a romantic pairing that has nothing to do with anger or pathology.  Shayne hasn’t turned Dinah in, yet.  Maybe he’s still in ‘hero’ mode and wants to save her – mostly from herself.
General Hospital

Marriage is a contract and, sadly, bumbling villain Claudia Zacchara hasn’t read the fine print on her contract, either – forced marriage or not.   OH, so close – Claudia, you were SO CLOSE to holding your own!  What can you expect, she did marry Sonny Corinthos and under the stewardship of the current writing team, no woman can be smart, for long – most especially no woman who is involved with Sonny.  She immediately realized that the man was using her, with his false and sudden displays  of affection.  She voiced her concerns.  She reasoned out the source of him new found love for her.  She knew something was wrong… and then she caved.  Oh well.  It was fun to see a smart woman on screen,  the five minutes it lasted!

I will give the other mob moll, Elizabeth Webber, credit for joining the ‘wake up and get a clue’ club – at least for now.  Some time ago I posted that I doubted that Liz would put the safety of her children before her ‘love’ for Jason.  We’d been down that road with her before when she told Jason the safety of her children would always come first and that she had to protect them – only to have her back off of that pledge in order to run wild with mobster boy.

I was touched by Lucky’s generosity, rather than anger, toward her.   There’s a part of me that wants L&L back together.  If it happens, there is almost certainly going to be a host of scenes and dialogue that will always make it clear that Lucky is only a substitute for Elizabeth’s true love.  That would annoy me beyond measure.  Lucky, son of Luke, deserves better.

It was torturous to watch him play second fiddle while the writers destroyed him in every way possible to make Jason look like more of a hero than Lucky could ever hope to imagine.  They used every ham-fisted trick in the book:  Lucky developed a drug problem – Jason was excused from doing business with drug dealers, Lucky had an affair – Jason was the pristine celibate mobster-monk, Lucky couldn’t shoot straight to kill a mobster 2 feet in front of him – Jason was there to save the day, Lucky was just a ‘cop’ – Mobster boy was the town’s secret superhero… thanks for nothing, writers.  Sell it somewhere else.

GH is in sore need of TRUE heroes, like Lucky Spencer, Anna Devane, Robert Scorpio, and Mac Scorpio, again.  They need to untie the hands of anti-hero Luke Spencer.  The writers also need to relegate the dark forces back into the shadows where they belong.  GH reached it’s hey days without the dark knights, they can do it again.  We have the hall of injustice:  The “Russian mob”, Jason, Sonny and the Zacharras… where is the league of superheroes, GH?  You’re in sore need of balance!