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: What’s not to love about this show?

MichaelQ Sonny CarlyClearly, becoming a Quartermaine has made Michael SMARTER!  He has seen through Lord Larry in record time, dumped his duplicitous parents, and stopped accepting excuses from everyone who keeps claiming they want to love and protect him – while plotting to keep him in the dark about the “fundamental truth of his life”.  Sonny killed his father and was aided and abetted by  his mother. Taking a life is such an inhuman act, even on soaps.  To have it treated as a minor altercation was mind blowing, so I’m glad that the writers have finally stopped treating the violence on the show as commonplace and trivial.  Watching Michael turn his back on his parents was a thing of beauty (and I say this as someone who LONG ago supported Sonny and Carly protecting Michael from AJ).  Sonny and Carly were never innocents, and AJ was never all bad, but there was a point at which they were able to be parents and deserved to love Michael without the constant threat of losing him… then came the kidnappings, and presumed deaths, and the violence that was so outrageous it lead to Michael falling into a coma after a bullet meant for Sonny landed in his brain. That was followed up by Michael’s enforcer dreams, Michael taking a life, a prison sentence,  and sexual violation.  It became impossible for me to see how they could ever be considered anything other than an unmitigated disaster in that kid’s life.

If we were having this conversation out loud, you might be tempted to tell me that:  Franco was responsible for Michael’s rape (or more like Franco’s associate).  Faith Rosco kidnapped Michael.  Claudia was responsible for Michael’s coma and for the fact that he ended up taking her life.  Yeah, got all of that… and yet all of it is tied to the fact that these were people gunning for his father, aimed at hurting his father and mother, and Michael became “collateral damage” along the way.  At no point was Sonny ever allowed by the writers to show growth and put his family before lifestyle… yes, he tried to break free and couldn’t because of the power vacuum it created and the additional risk to his children… got it… the writers could have had Sonny leave his family and watch over them from a distance.  They didn’t.  In Sonny Corinthos they created a character who is loathsome, selfish, vain, and hateful despite his dimples (shame on Lucy and FCarly Is Arrestedelicia).  By the time he got around to daily threatening to kill a pregnant Ava once her child was born, he was done, in my book.

It felt good to watch AJ ‘s son walk away from the dark, unsalvageable, things his parents became. Carly faulted Franco for Michael’s rape… and then fell in love with him… and then threw the rape of her son in his face when he exposed her as a cheat and liar.  Was Michael’s pain never in her mind before that?  Every time that man touched her did she not feel sick thinking of what happened to her son?  Was Michael’s rape a weapon she was waiting to use any time they had a disagreement?  Franco becomes angry that she didn’t do the dishes so she tells him she’s still mad he was responsible for her son’s rape?  I’m guessing it would have also been a useful argument in getting him to mow the lawn, take down the Christmas tree, do laundry, etc.

Michael’s emotional upset at watching her get close to Franco was never the tipping point?  Carly’s “love” for Franco, and willingness to marry him, was more about protecting Sonny than making sure Michael did not have to re-live one of the worst times in his short life – and there have been so many awful times for that child.  She even allowed her son to be the best man at their failed wedding.  What kind of mother does that?  She continues to say that Franco blew her family apart, not Sonny’s depraved act of killing AJ.  It was Franco, not the fact that she lied and put herself between her son and the truth for Sonny’s sake.  Nope.  It’s all Franco.  Useless.  Carly’s lack of insight into the damage she’s caused to others is frightening.  It was entertaining when she was young.  It’s migraine inducing as she ages.  Ages is supposed to bring wisdom.  Instead, it only seems to bring gag inducing helpings of stupidity and cruelty for Carly.  She becomes more selfish in time, not less.

In a soap-to-soap mashup?  I would expect a “worst mother/daughter/sister” of the year face off between GH’s Carly, BnB’s Brooke Logan, and DAYS’ Sami Brady.  I think the title would be a fight to the finish between Brooke and Carly, or at least a tie.

Sonny is BookedOddly enough, only Sonny seems to be experiencing any true remorse.  Carly is still raging at the world and trying to force her son to love her and respect her again (a right I think she’s given up by protecting Sonny when even she should have been disgusted with him).  Sonny is willing to suffer the consequences of his betrayal of AJ’s son, the child he made a promise to love and protect, long ago, finally realizing that he allowed his hatred for AJ, disguised as love for Connie, mattered more than every day he ever spent raising and nurturing Michael.  At least the writers have allowed Sonny to show some insight into his behavior.  I don’t think they will ever allow Carly to grow up and learn that her actions have consequences.  I no longer care if they do.  I will simply cherish the moments of seeing handcuffs slapped on Carly and having her spend some time behind bars.  While I see zero hope for Carly, I do see hope for Sonny (if the constantly swirling rumors of Maurice Benard’s leaving aren’t true).  I don’t want Sonny in Michael’s life again, but I would love for the writers to take this opportunity to reinvent Sonny.  Let him be someone completely different from the man he has been all these years.  Benard is such a gifted actor with so many more stories he could help tell, I hope that happens, for the sake of the show and its fans.

What I love most?

There is one more Quartermaine in the world of Port Chuckles, and after losing Alan, Lila, Edward, and Tracy, I am happy to see Michael back in the fold.  What’s that?  Tracy hasn’t passed away?  She may as well be gone, given her repeated betrayal of her family and her willingness to put them all at risk for the sake of “love” for a man she clearly doesn’t know well enough to realize that something is wrong and that the man she married couldn’t stand her touch.  Even Liz and Sam are picking up the “NuJase is OldJase” vibes.  Eh, I’ll save all of that for another blog, another time.  Maybe I’ll be able to soon blog about the return of Jason Quartermaine, one day soon!

The Naturals – GH

Kimberly McCullough (Robin) and Jason Thompson (Patrick) are such naturals that they make you forget that they’re acting!  Often actors try to ignore babbling infants or are so distracted by them they break scene.  KM and JT have such a natural chemistry that they seamlessly weave adorable ‘Emma’ into the conversation with ‘Patrick’ and ‘Robin’.

I’d take a boatload of every-day scenes with this soap family than any scene involving fights about mob ties, crazy stalkerish ex-lovers, PPD, and any other storyline the writers keep coming up with to try to split the couple up.  THESE are the money shots.  The moments of reprieve from soap nuttiness that makes us remember why we loved soaps in the first place:

This clip only gets good at the end, when Tracy unleashes fresh hell on Carly.  Before there was whining, crying and shrieking, there was Tracy – and you are outgunned, my dear Carly Corinthos Jacks.  Listening to the Corinthos clan blame their woes on the rest of the world is maddening.  The behavior is sweet, but sad, when coming from four year olds.  It’s certifiable in adults:

Remember when the mobsters were annoying but at least used adult logic?

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.

GH – Practicing the Dark Arts

I’m trying to get a handle on what’s going on with General Hospital. There are things I like about the show (though nothing I love, right now).

  • I’m THRILLED that Kate is moving on with her life. Her role as Sonny’s avenger was wearing thin. She’s bright, wealthy, beautiful and successful… why would she want to carry water for Sonny? He’s treated her so shabbily since he married Claudia – a woman he couldn’t stand, initially. I like the idea of having a successful woman on the show who worries about her career, and isn’t wasted worrying about dating a man who’ll never be faithful to her. Sonny has the attention span the length of the lifespan of a fruit fly.
  • I thought I wanted Lucky and Liz together, but given her treatment of him in favor of Jason, I don’t think it should happen right away (if it ever happens at all given every onscreen indication that Liz will become involved with Patrick). I’m not crazy about Rebecca and would love to see her GO… away, FAR FAR away… but if that won’t happen, she’s not so bad with Lucky, for now.
  • It’s great seeing Carly and Jax work out their marriage. It’s time for a adult up move between two married people on this show. It’s far too easy to split a couple up to create a new set of pairings. I think it takes more talent to put a couple together and make them interesting from inside the relationship.
  • Agent Rayner makes me want to chew glass, at times. The writers are too heavy handed in making him the chief foe of the Port Chuckles mob kingpins. I think we’re supposed to hate him and root for the mob-boys… NOT SO! I can multi-task, no problem. I am annoyed by BOTH of them, less so with Rayner. That said, I like the thought of an Alexis/Rayner pairing, though who knows how he’d react to having to deal with Sonny should he become Christina’s new step-pappa.  Would he want to jeopardize his career by sharing a child with a mob boss?  Could he handle having Sonny THAT involved in his life?
  • It’s wrong, it’s SO WRONG, but I like Sonny and Claudia. I learned to like Sonny and Carly eventually (when Sarah Brown was in the role) though it broke my heart for Carly to hurt Jason. I wanted Jason and Carly more than anything. There must be some carryover from the Sonny-SB/Carly days. I don’t care what it is, I like them. They’re dark, mean, and clearly pretty good at gaming one another. Sonny has met his psychotic soul mate. What more could you ask for?

The question was rhetorical, I can tell you what more to ask for:

Writers, LEAVE SCRUBS ALONE! For as much as I like the thought of keeping Sonny and Carly Claudia together, it dawns on me that the writers are treating them as the ‘Dark Arts’ version of Scrubs. They’re playful and passionate, and fun to watch when you allow yourself to forget that these are two people who’d just as soon put a bullet in you, as love you.

They are clearly NOT a good trade for the real Scrubs.

I was admittedly excited about the PPD storyline when it was announced. Robin’s history has been that she’s needed to have a sense of control over every aspect of her life. She’d learned to become cautious, possibly overly cautious, after her contracting HIV. She’d lost so much before: Stone, her mother, her father, Jason… order gave Robin a sense of security.

So it makes sense that with her hormones out of wack, a child she wasn’t sure she could care for, and no clear certainty about her future in a career she’d worked so hard to obtain would all lead her to a dark place.

The dark place I thought Robin might go to was leaving home and possibly contemplating divorce, or seeking out support from a psychiatrist and refusing to comply with treatment, or sitting alone in a dark room and refusing to talk with anyone – develping a catatonic state not unlike Laura Spencer’s.  At most I thought that Robin might start drinking or taking drugs. The writers are setting us up for FAR WORSE. Robin sitting alone, drinking in a bar, making up a new identity? Checking into a hotel room all alone? How much longer before she’s sharing that room with another man, who knows her by another name and a different identity?

What next, GH writers? Will this man ‘make a video’? Will he blackmail Robin once he realizes who she is (with or without video)? Will she carry on a longterm affair? Will she leave her family because she’s in love with him?

What the hell is wrong with daytime writers? Why can’t they leave what WORKS alone? Is there an allergy to success in daytime?  I’ve speculated about that before.  I’m sure that there must be, now.  When you have a winning formula, the thing to do is DOUBLE DOWN! Use it to create MORE of the what the audience wants. Don’t destroy one of the best things you have going. Destroying Maximista and Spinelli wasn’t enough (making him her confessor as she talks about her bad behavior with another man)?

The time for experimentation to bring in new viewers was LONG ago in daytime.  Now? The name of the game is survival. Keep the audience you still have left by not insulting us with storylines that we can never, and will never accept.

Much like Carly and Jax, fans can appreciate a couple willing to work out their issues and stay together. Real couples do it every day. There are ways of introducing new couples and new pairings and drawing fans in. Breaking up Scrubs (and that’s where it feels like we’re headed in confirmation of the spoilers out there suggesting it will happen) is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with the ratings.  You not only can’t tolerate success, you want to beat it into the ground and make sure it never comes near you again!

GH Characters and Couples I’m learning to love again!

Carly Corinthos Jacks.  The moment Sarah Joy Brown stepped foot on stage, I became a Caroline “Carly” Benson-Roberts (…Quartermaine Corinthos Jacks)”  fan.  Carly is a character who is so good, she practically writes herself – and by “good” I mean good at driving people crazy with her half-baked schemes. 

I absolutely adore Laura Wright in the role and not just because I would crawl into a deathmatch cage to have hair as gorgeous  as hers.  I’ve been madly impressed with her interpretation of Carly.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been as happy with the writers’ re-invention of the character since Wright took the role.  It started off well enough, but then the writers transformed a relatively self-reliant, strong, vibrant character and into a highly co-dependent, whining, meddling pain in the ass.  HEARTBREAK!  So what’s to like?

The writers are reinventing Carly once again – for the better.  She’s taken a huge step forward and has decided to put her marriage before the mob.  Jax’s quixotic attempts to rescue princesses who aren’t exactly looking to escape from the clapsed arms of Port Chuckles’ dark knights has been painful to watch. I’d given up hope that the man could ever find true love.   To have Carly choose him gave me  a glimpse of the old Carly.  It’s about time some woman realized that Jax was the much better alternative to a life of gunshots and death threats – hard to believe it’s taken so long. 

Choosing Jax hasn’t been her only shining moment.  To have her reach out to Robin shows both Carly’s depth and vulnerability, traits the writers have ignored for far too long.  Wright and McCullough were amazing, bringing great sensitivity and a delightful sense of history to their scenes, addressing Robin’s post partum depression.  (Click HERE and you’ll see why I think it makes perfect sense that these two women can now become friends).  Theirs will be an uneasy truce, if the writers bother to take them that far.  Can’t you see Carly and Robin as great ‘frenemies’?  Imagine them as daytime’s  answer to Ouiser and Clariee!

Jason Morgan.  I wouldn’t use the word ‘love’ to describe what I feel for him.  I do find Jason a TAD more watchable right now.  We’ve seen Jason sacrifice himself for the women he loves – but only when he’s personally involved and presumably getting something out of the deal.  His willingness to fight for Spinelli’s freedom is impressive.  The writers created a character so stoic and removed from any emotional response that he was transformed from the living-giving Jason Quartermaine, to the life-taking Jason M. 

What’s next?  Who the hell knows?  This is GH!  What I would like to see, besides getting Jason away from Liz and finding out that the Jake isn’t his, is to have Jason Q. return.  Jsaon Quartermaine, in the realm of daytime at least, could have a medical breakthrough.  He could wake up one day, reliving every kill Jason Morgan ever made.  Since Jason Quartermaine never indulged the same, weak, moral equivalencies that Jason Morgan does, he wouldn’t view JM’s kills as ‘righteous’.  After a brief psychological breakdown, Jason Quartermaine could walk back into his family’s home, pick up where he left off, and become a new man again. He could return to the hospital, post medical school, and join the medical staff at GH.  That would be a far better tribute to Alan than having his ghost show up every other month.  Another option is having him put his new business skills to use at thelegitimate though sometimes shady at ELQ.

By the way, I was wrong, I said that I couldn’t get worked up over yet another GH disaster storyline.  The commercials have me hooked.  Of course, it was disappointing to see Jason MORGAN there, calling shots and taking control yet again.  BASTA!  Enough already.  Let’s hope the doctors are the centerpiece heroes in this storyline about a MEDICAL crisis.

Johnny Zacchara.  For the son of a psychotic mob boss, and a man who was anxious to take the reigns of power from his father, Johnny is an OK guy!   I haven’t been the biggest fan of the Johnny/Lulu relationship – though I did enjoy the care he gave Lulu when they were on the run for Logan’s murder.  Brandon Barash (Johnny’s portrayer) has it all but the writers have made little use of it. 

Johnny has spent most of his tenure on GH playing a stoic, stale version of Jason Morgan.  He’s so much better than that!  Watching the guy remake himself has been provided fans with  a fascinating character study.  Johnny, as he’s written, has never had to think about what he would or could become.  There was never a choice.  Yet, he has become the hope of that  segment of the audience that has always wanted to see Sonny and Jason walk away from mob life for good and figure out what kind of people they are.  Johnny has shown a grit and the courage that the scary big bads haven’t shown so far.  He’d rather mop floors than run drugs?  He’d rather clean tables than prostitute women or kill rivals?  FINALLY!

If we’re lucky the writers are treating him as someone who wants this change for his own sake and not just for Lulu.  Johnny has to be the mob-boy-turned-human-being who makes it.  I’m rooting for him (and for the writers to continue to make him a unique character. 

Liz and Lucky

Fine, that’s not a picture of Liz and Lucky, it’s a gratuitious shot of Maxie and Spinelli (Maxelli).  GH has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to it’s younger couples. Couples at midlife? Not so lucky. In GH’s younger set there’s Robin and Patrick, Sonny and Claudia (for now), Jax and Carly (for now), Lulu and Johnny (for now), Jason longing for Liz and vice versa (for now), Lucky and Sam (for now), Maxie and Spinelli (sorta’).

Clearly, the only confidence I have is in the Scrubs pairing. Sonny and Claudia’s marriage is running on borrowed time, as are Lulu and Johnny given his connection to Claudia’s soon to be ill fortune!  Rumors/Spoilers suggest that Kate Howard will get to have the last laugh and find one of Jerry Jax’s magical DVDs.  Once Claudia falls, Johnny can’t be far behind – hopefully this won’t be the end of the Zacharra sibs.  I have a feeling they’ll find out that their hired gun wasn’t responsible for Michael’s shooting after all, but that their father sent someone who was responsible.

Of the above mentioned couples, the couples that are seemingly headed for the land of ‘couple swapping’ is that of  Liason (Liz and Jason) and LuSam (Lucky and Sam).  They’re headed back to their original pairings as it SHOULD be.

Lucky and Liz  together bring out the best in each other, when they’re good. Jason and Liz together bring out the worst in one another.  They also bring out the worst in those around them. To make Jason and Liz work the people around them have to be trashed to hell.  It appears to be the writers’ only trick to make Liz sympathetic (instead of desperate, clingy, and careless with her children’s lives) or to make Jason seem a better man when with her – when in reality nothing ‘s changed about him..

–Carly had to betray Jason and sleep with Sonny – something she would NEVER have done, just to give Jason cause to turn to Liz.   Carly’s love (or obsession, you choose) for Jason was so great that she risked jail time and death just to be near him.  No matter how much she loved Sonny later, it was easy to see that Carly still regretted that the one thing she couldn’t give her son, Michael, was Jason’s DNA.  Her great regret was that his brother A.J. was his father.   Sex with Sonny?  Completely out of character for Carly.  It was, however, the beginning of his turning to Liz for help during his dark times.  It was also the beginning of the writers stealing back Lucky’s hard earned place as a true GH hero.

— Heroic Lucky had to become a drug user and cheat (discussed HERE). Out of character for Lucky who was one of the truest of true hearts this show’s ever produced.

— Sam developed a vicious form of babymania and had Liz’s child kidnapped just to hurt her.  Given the scenes of Sam with her own brother before he died, and her feelings about her own pregnancy, family was always her first priority.  It was simply by watching the ‘great love’ of  Jason and Liz that she quickly become capable of risking harm to a child.  Sure.  Anything to make Liason more sympathetic… only NOT.

When you have to work that hard to put a couple together:

1 – you’re tearing apart a great cast, dumping on your show’s history, and chasing off viewers.

2 – there’s nothing worth having with the couple you’re foisting on the audience. There’s a reason there was such a negative reaction to Jason and Liz.  There’s just far too much emotional manipulation of the audience rather than an emotional connection between the characters.  I will be more than happy to see Liason go.

I’d like the writers to restore the LnL2 history.  I’d like to see Liz try to figure out what her attraction to Jason has been when he’s so unlike anything she’s ever wanted for herself and her children – yes, despite the fact that both of her sons have biological fathers with criminal histories. 

I don’t want to see Lucky beg for her love or try to win her back.  If she can forgive Jason’s murderous tendencies, she owed Lucky more than walking away from their marriage when he was ill.  The writers need to take Liz on a journey of deep exploration, and let her try to win HIS love and trust back.  St. Liz passed another man’s child off as his when he was ill, she really doesn’t have a lot of room to judge the man for his past.

Guiding Light leading daytime’s echo chamber

Ellen Wheeler wants to Save Daytime (Thanks LizDC at the Official GL board for posting the link.  There are so many issues with this article, but this line in particular caught my eye:

The stereotypical soap viewer is the older housewife, but the shows have historically picked up a lot of fans on college campuses. With its face-lift, Guiding Light is banking on pulling in a whole new generation of viewers. “I do think if you were flipping through the channels you wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, this is a soap opera, I’m not going to stop,’ ” says Wheeler. “You wouldn’t know what it was.”

Here’s the problem… most of us STILL don’t seem to know what GL is.  The show bears little to no resemblance to the GL of even a decade ago.  It has little resemblance to a reality show. It feels more as if the show is a documentary about insane people blowing around some small town pretending they’re soap characters.  I miss daytime.  The REAL daytime.  I began watching daytime with my grandmother – anyone I’ve every spoken to about watching soaps began watching with one of those ‘stereotypically older viewers’ that daytime now laments and discounts.

Those S.O.V’s were daytime’s best kept secret – their most reliable recruiting tool.  I loved almost all daytime storylines, and didn’t care if there were hormonal teens or hot young adults on air.  I loved the family interactions interspersed with outrageous behavior (which did not include: demonic possession, time travel, cloned dead wives, space travel, alien life forms, witches, living dolls, or much of any of the other much which has creeped into daytime storytelling.  If daytime fans wanted that, Dark Shadows would still be on air.)

Outrageous behavior,  in the early days, was ‘stealing’ a husband or wife, or DAYS’ Julie stealing from department stores.  It’s hard to believe how the definition of outrageous has changed.

The interviewer goes on to add:

The actors generally approve of the reality-style shooting, which leads to a fresher kind of acting. “It’s less like shooting a play,” says Murray Bartlett, who plays Cyrus the Australian jewel thief. “Now you can lose yourself in the environment. It feels more intimate, and you can hopefully be more subtle.”

Could someone reconcile the writer’s (not the actor’s) comment with this:

Carolyn: Can you give me an example of what you’re talking about?

Actor: Getting changed in the backseat of a car without the windows tinted on a busy street while trying to run lines with the actor in the car with you, because you don’t have any other time to rehearse. Holding your own lights. Stuff that’s just laughable. And they want a good product from this? The system is there for a reason, so people are taken advantage of and exploited. We all need to have our jobs respected…  Read the full transcript HERE

How is it that the soap press can tell what a complete disaster filming in Peapack is but the author of this article sells the ‘new’ GL as inventive?  The author can’t be a fan of daytime.  I know daytime is considered fluff but I wish those outside the genre would ask some seriously tough quesions of soaps Executive Producers and Writers.  Doing a puff piece on it is a waste of time and leaves fans feeling even MORE frustrated.

Where is the discussion about RPG (Gus) and BE (Harley) and the others (like Laura Wright, ex-Cassie) who have jumped ship because of low morale after the Wheeler team took over?  Where are the comments about the actors who are afraid of speaking up out of fear or retaliation? Why haven’t there been any comments that the ratings keep sinking, and fast, even for the new format? 

Everything about daytime is superficial now.  That includes the articles written about daytime.  GL’s Bartlett may indeed enjoy the new filming setting, at least until the fall chill and winter months set in.  I’m waiting to see what the show does then.  If the soap press, who is presumably closer to the actors and actually talks to more of them, is to be believed, all is not well in the city and state of Peapack, New Jersey. 

The interviewer talked with Wheeler about the storylines she didn’t like and got rid of but you didn’t ask her about the GL history she knows, loves, and what has she done to try to build on what once worked, what she’d like to do to return to the style and level of writing that kept fans tuned in.  If Wheeler’s done so and I’ve missed it, someone let me know!  What I also find interesting is that daytime execs use to ‘blame OJ’ (or the OJ trial) for the decline of soap ratings.  Mechling’s article goes all the way back to the 1992 introduction of MTV’s ‘Real World’. 

Well hells bells, COPS was introduced in 1989, Springer took the air in 1991, what other ‘reality’ show dealing with human relationships can we blame?  Enough with the excuses.  The problem for daytime, in my opinion, is that writers and producers have spent more time focusing on gimmicks.  They’ve decided that the familial relationships developed with longtime favorite characters were ‘too old-fashioned’.  They’ve killed off both. 

Daytime is notorious for following bad leads (both inside and outside of the genre) – Marlena’s possession on DOOL and then the introduction of ‘Passions’ has turned into a host of ‘supernatural’ storylines across daytime for some time and has only recently seemingly ended.  Siblings and parents share lovers more intimately and often than ever before.  Misattributed paternities are the norm, not the exception, and with such, there’s no longer a stigma on dating someone who was once your father or brother (Ridge and Bridget, BnB). 

Oh.Snap!  Great!  Now I’m wondering why I’m still watching daytime.  I have to go and consider the point… I’ll see you next blog… maybe…