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!

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Second Verse Same As The First? Why RH’s Todd Had To Win Out

TSJ’s last day filming for the show was late July (the 22nd).  The entire time I’ve been hoping that TPTB released the information to throw fans off track (much like the ‘Todd’s execution scenes when, I believe, TSJ’s contract was up and TPTB kept us guessing about whether or not he would return.  At time moves on, I realize that it’s utterly hopeless to believe that TPTB are playing a waiting game and I realize that RH’s Todd has indeed won out.  While I’d preferred having both men onscreen, it’s clear that RH’s Todd had to win out.  Bummer, but I accept it will adjust.

Bummer?  Yes, bummer.  I’ve been adamant that I want TSJ to be declared the ‘real Todd’ while keeping RH’s Todd on as the  newly discovered brother brainwashed into believing he was Todd  Why? Although it took me a while to warm up to him,  I’ve been a huge  TSJ supporter since Todd’s “death row” storyline.  It’s one of the most ethereal,  hauntingly beautiful, storylines OLTL writers have offered.  A rapist, who later became a rape survivor, is on death row after being convicted of killing his assailant.  I think TSJ added an intangible quality to the role that RH’s Todd didn’t have.

Rather than build on the magnificence of that storyline and send Todd on a journey of introspection, OLTL writers took the opportunity to make Todd meaner, angrier, and more vile with each act -primarily to prop other characters and storylines.   TSJ’s Todd was sacrificed to sell Cole and the Starr as a burgeoning supercouple and the writers wasted no time in taking TSJ’s Todd to a new low (battering Cole, knocking a pregnant Starr down a flight of stiars, threatening to kill orphaned adolescents, bullying Starr’s friends, etc).

Todd had become such a heinous character that OLTL writers wasted months creating a new ‘high school musical’ around the “eternal” love of Starr and Cole, with Todd being cast as evil personified.  Much of Langston’s play centered around the heartlessness of a man like Todd, who’d lost the ability to recognize and bask in the glow of true love.  When an entire town’s collective life revolves around a high schol musical on the glory of teen love/pregnancy as a lesson about love for the ages?  Your show and its characters are doomed.  I think the show for far too long leveraged its credibility on the backs of its youngest performers (not their fault at all) in the hopes of bringing in newer/younger viewers — and  as has always been true of daytime, younger viewers are as uninterested in hot mess storyline about their lives as the rest of us.  It didn’t stop TSJ’s Todd from becoming a causalty and beginning the downward spiral toward irrelevance.

Like RH before him, TSJ’s  portrayal of the character became one of boredom and he began projecting ‘shorthand’ acting.  His  responses became quick quips. Facials expressions (plural) became facial expression (singular).  The return of Marty Saybrooke was the death of TSJ’s Todd Manning.  His struggle for redemption – post Marty’s rape (the first time) was gone.  His sad realization that he would never be able to make up to Marty, or the community he offended and terrorized, for his actions was gone.  His struggle to forgive himself for what he’d become, was gone.  

The writers, I can only guess, felt that they’d found the one sure fire way of giving all of that back to fans.  RH’s Todd gets a fresh start.  If he becomes ‘Real Todd’, it means that the writers can take us back to the place where we loved the flawed Todd Manning because he would still be struggling with his humanity and his fighting his  fear of returing to the sociopath he’d once been (the sociopath TSJ’s Todd was sacrificed to become once again). 

Watching Viki with Todd, even I began to long for old Todd.  I remembered how instrumental a role Viki played in Todd’s redepmtion and how much closer to human she made him. The few minutes of Viki with the RHTodd’s (the Todd who was allowed to experience human emotions) made me “homesick” and sad that the writers had wasted the gifts that TST brought to the role at the same time.   There is something special in RH’s Todd’s relationship with Viki that TSJ’s Todd  was never allowed to capture.   I felt like an intruder watching Viki watch her baby brother (RH Todd) sleep.  The moment felt so real and I could only imagine that in fictional Viki’s shoes that I, too, would long for the brother with a  familiar face, a  familiar sound and familiar mannerisms. 

I get it, because as much as I’ve loved TSJ in the role and for as much as I hope there is a way to bring him back, afterall, I can see the emtional threads of this storyline braiding themselves together to give fans the Todd they’d hoped they would get with TSJ and were disappointed when the writers had other plans.  EZ’s Viki and RH’s Todd have the opportunity to bring viewers back to what feels like ‘home’.

Initially, this storyline led me to imagine the Emmy worthy work Erika Slezak would deliver as the emotional heart of the Lord family, torn between two brothers who want to be loved best by her – one who now had everything and one who’d pretty much lost it all.  Both brothers would be fearful of being rejected in favor of the other. I thought of the stress and pain it would cause Viki to constantly be asked to choose between them, as it has caused her the same gutwrenching  pain she experiences even still with her daughters. Ithought of the comic moments with the two sets of long lost Lord twins, RH-Todd and his favorite, Jess.  TSJ -Todd becoming Natalies’s champion.  In the end, while both Todds are familiar to Viki, both would be strangers.  Now it’s becoming clearer that the writers are going to make a ‘choice’ themselves, and I’m resigned to the fact that their choice won’t be mine and TSJ won’t be back.  More is the pity.

Ultimately, it must be hell to work for an ABC soap in a familiar role.  From the return of the “Real Greenlee” to the return of RH’s Todd, any actor would probably be smart to consider themselves just a temporary long-term replacement in any ABC soap role.

OLTL: Todd/Todd2/ Irene – Clouded Destiny

Oh, OLTL writers.  Why wait until AFTER the show is cancelled to write a compelling set of plots!?!?!  We have two key pieces of information that help put the T/T2 storyline in broader perspective, I think.  The first is the unaired woman’s face, head of a secret organization which held Todd (or Todd2) prisoner.  The second is Viki looking over the picture of Todd/Todd2’s mother, Irene — nice touch! 

Speculation time:  Irene and the heartless head of the spy organization one in the same person. 

Was Irene a plant, sent in from this secret  spy organization to get close to Victor Lord?  Was she a dangerous spy of some sort who was supposed to uncover Victor’s coldwar dirt (to whom was he selling secrets/weapons/etc) and then meant to kill him?   Did the organization fake her death when her mission was over and allowed her to recover one of her sons only to send him off somewhere safe when she realized that a child was in the way of her ambition to rise to power in the agency?  Did she plan to bring the unknown twin in to replace the known twin (Todd), who is obviously a bitter failure in her book since he couldn’t be controlled? 

Of course, a complete and utter indifference would explain why she didn’t care that her brother subjected one of her sons to incredible torture during his childhood and why she never intervened to help Todd as he careened out of control in his young adulthood.  In hindsight, it benefitted her.  She later realized that she needed a sociopathic cold-blooded killer she could trust or at least control, someone linked to her.  It’s exactly what she thought one of her sons became.  Thanks to her brother’s cruelty, Todd had learned to not care about others and to inflict pain without remorse.  The trouble with him would have been the fact that he doesn’t take orders, and that he felt no allegiance to anyone – not even his believed dead mother.  Allowing the other twin to be beaten, tortured and brainwashed in her own agency  made Todd1’s  failure to become her puppet immaterial.  She could create the cold-blooded killer-superagent she needed in Todd2.

Oh yes, I’m intrigued, OLTL writers, and enough  so that I forgive you for creating yet another set of mystery twins in the Lord family and hope that the execution of the Todd-Todd2 storyline is far more successful than the mind numbing Jessica/Tess/Hot Messica-Natalie storyline.  I’m even willing to pretend that the other twin pair doesn’t exist at all!  Yeah, Todd and Todd2 are just that interesting.  By the way, does this now mean that Todd1 has to split his inheritance with Todd2?  Now THAT is going to be the place where these brothers part company!

Destiny – Nora:  The mother of all showdowns?

Love or hate her, the one consistency about Nora is that when it comes to the law, she’s willing to do what she can to help those she cares about and believes in escape what she thinks of as an unfair prosecution. When it comes to her children?  There is no such thing.  Hell hath no fury! The Ford Brother (whichever one it is, they’re all the same to me) only escaped having Nora give him a proctology exam like no other because he had something to trade, his freedom for Matthews’. 

As much as Nora loves Destiny, is there anyone who doesn’t believe that if the writers are consistent, Nora will take young Destiny to court to prevent her from aborting Matthew’s child if she doesn’t decide on her own to keep it?  I can’t see Nora talking Destiny into keeping this baby if her own mother wasn’t able to, and I can’t see Nora sitting idly by while Destiny makes this decision.  I could see Nora on one side, Bo in the middle and Destiny and her mother fighting for her right to not have to keep a child she’s not ready to raise on her own, or even with the help of the Buchanans.

Whatever the decision, I hope it’s Destiny’s to make and I hope she can handle the consequences.  If true the form, the writers will have Matthew wake up and remember Dani alone,  and his great love for her.  Destiny’s face won’t ring any bells for him.  He won’t feel close to her or her child (should she decide to keep it).  If Destiny decides not to keep the baby, I can see Matthew waking up, again in love with Dani, and having the poor girl feel twice as lonely and in despair — no child, no Matthew, just heartache.  Either way it rolls, insanity is in Destiny’s future — because women in daytime go crazy without the love of the objects of their affection.  I think it’s a rule, or just a misogynistic wish on all soap writers’ parts.

If you know the secret, clue me in…

As The World Turns

Why does Paul hate Dusty so much?  I know the writers want conflict between ATWT’s titan younger male leads,  but it doesn’t make sense – especially in light of Dusty’s relationship with the deceased Jennifer Munson.   Dusty has loved Jen and maintained the integrity of her memory FAR more than her own brother has.  For Paul to hire a someone to cause Dusty to question whether she’s Jennifer, or some reincarnated form, was just classic soap evil!  Tasty little plot, isn’t it?  Even still, Dusty fought Craig Montgomery to protect Jennifer and to protect her son from falling into Craig’s hands.  So what is the foundation of Paul’s extreme hack-him-to-death hatred for Dusty?

I’m curious about whether anyone on the ATWT writing or production staff has every watched Roger Howath’s work on One Life To Live.  Todd was one of the most vile and despicable characters in the history of daytime (read my blog below about why I think the OLTL writers owe the fans an apology for the Todd/Marty storyline.  Many of the clips of the early Marty/Todd interactions were filmed while Howarth was still in the role).  Todd was malicious, and frightening to be quite honest.  His continued tormenting of Marty Saybrooke even after he raped her gave viewers the impression that given the chance, he’d assault her again.

What does that have to do with Howarth’s work as Paul?  If the writers then followed the storyline, and watched as Howarth transformed Todd from a hateful bastard to a repentant and self-loathing soul, they would have been amazed.  They would better understand the range of Howarth’s ability (and it is an amazing range).  The WTs writers would pen storylines that allow Howarth to best use the extensive arsenal of skills he brings with him to the role of Paul Ryan.  I’ve never warmed up to Mr. Howarth in this role and it has nothing to do with the actor.  it has everything to do with the writing.

Paul, as he’s currently written, has very few redeeming qualities.  He’s insecure, whiny, and perpetually angry.  That’s the short list.  There is little room for the character to be remorseful because he spends so much of his time moving from one failed idiotic plot to the next.  The writers have given viewers, in my opinion, very little reason to root for NuPaul, or the Paul/Meg relationship.  “Peg” yet to establish themselves as a couple, outside of the fact that they are two people whose lives are constantly marred by tragedy, much of it self-inflicted.  Trauma and drama are daytime staples, but almost all successful couples have been granted some period of time to experience a little happiness.  I want to see Howarth make this role his own and bring to it the uniqueness it deserves.  He has talent to spare, and given the right material he could create a character, and become part of a couple, with few equals in daytime.  Here’s hoping!

Just as an aside

BTW, doesn’t this picture just scream, “Even I’m not buying into the ‘sainted Janet’ role I’m now playing”.  Janet was more believable as a  woman who worked to break up the marriage of a man she hadn’t seen since she was a teenager.

Don’t worry ‘Janet’, you’re not alone.  I’m not buying it either.  I’m over the ‘CarJack’ phenomenon and would love to see Carly happy with a confident and loving man.  I say that to say this, I don’t dislike Janet because of her relationship with Jack – she’s not keeping Jack from Carly in my book.  Jack clinging to stupidity has always done that.

What I want so see is a Janet with a little more grit.  She doesn’t have to be the sleaze she was when she hit town, but the writers have to do better than propping her up as the cardboard charcter she’s become. If the only way to sell Janet and Jack is to make Carly look like the bad seed keeping them from their happiness, Janet is nothing more than a plot device and hardly a useful character worth watching.  To continue to promote her in front burner storylines when her only purpose is to try to make Carly look worse is a waste of viewer’s time.  Give her her edge back.  Let her take on someone other than Carly, and figure out who and what she is – other than Jack’s ego defense shield.  Pinson has the goods and can turn in a hell of a performance given the chance, much like her costar, Howarth.  The writers just have to give her the chance!