General Hospital Until the Bitter End

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Before I start my review of the new General Hospital (Frank Valentini executive producer, Ron Carlivati, headwriter) I have three things to say:

1.  I agree with everything my good friend Ed Martin says in the column below (“Can General Hospital Be Saved?”)  Do a Gloria Monty, gut the show and start all over again. Evict the mob now! Ed suggests it would be best to eliminate

What’s the new and improved GH’s future?  Who knows?  But I’ll be watching until the very end, mainly  because I enjoy classic soap opera which very nearly resembles the classic shows I grew up on, many decades and lipstick applications ago.

“the (three) characters whose storylines have brought the show to its knees.” Lock up Sonny and Jason for their list of murders and crimes.  Send Carly to “Mob Wives” where she can shriek and scream along with those zaftig, cussin’ bambinas.Give me women who are empowered, smart and moral enough not to even dream of talking to those hoods Sonny and Jason!  Free Alexis Davis (played by feminist Nancy Grahn) and give an older woman a full love life (Diane has one night stands) and a life outside of being just a mom. Women over 35 watch this show!

2.  In the past, I’ve been chilly to Valentini and Carlivati on One Life to Live for their periodic sexism (remember Dorian’s blow job?) and inconsistent material.  This is a new show and as far as I am concerned.  They are getting a fresh start.  They don’t have mega-misogynist Brian Fronts pulling their strings now!

3.  I believe ABC will cancel this show, either next month or after it possibly goes into The Revolution‘s timeslot.  ABC doesn’t want afternoon soaps just as much I really, really, really don’t want GH to die. But forgive me, I don’t trust ABC honcho Anne Sweeney for a second.   
 
That said, I like the new GH, watch it every day, and indeed set my whole schedule around it.  I am a fiend for classic soap opera and I’m reveling in the clear, well-integrated writing, which is full of authentic human emotion:  Patrick’s tears for Robin, Luke’s friendship for Robert, Robin’s ghost coming and going to show her love for Patrick, even Luke even telling Lulu, “I don’t believe in God, but I believe that love resonates. It makes life worth living.”

All of this pleases moi, a longtime classic soap devotee.  Hooray! Carlivati and company remember that soap’s character motivation should always be love — not guns, not shower rapes, not shooting your own kid, not bogus coffee beans.
Although I know many GH fans don’t agree because they feel their show has been intruded upon, I think the crossover of the One Life to Live characters (Starr,  Blair, Todd, John)  to GH because of Starr’s accident was seamless and well thought out.  The day a vengeful Todd held a gun on Sonny in the court room, sonny and toddmy husband Moose looked up from his newspaper and said, “Oh my God, it’s Frankenstein vs. Dracula.”  Indeed!  The hotel bar scenes in which Carly and Blair compared lives and ex- husbands were hilarious. (They held up fingers for how many times they had been married to Sonny and Todd: four for Carly, five for Blair.)  These women are the same character!  But truthfully what  Mrs. Frankenstein and Mrs. Dracula are really essentially are is their brutal, misogynist ex- husbands’ feisty if stylish doormats.

I thought Kassie De Paiva was terrific in comforting devastated mother Starr in her hospital room.  DePaiva  is always tremendously sympathetic and humane and she deserves a contract just as much as Roger Howarth does as Todd.  A woman over 35 …

True, there have been parts of the show I don’t like very much. Robert and Holly came and went in the blink of an eye. Jen Lilly was good in her breakdown scenes and she deserves to be Kirsten Storm’s permanent replacement (I dislike Storm’s her nervous mannerisms and her Valley Girl speech). I normally like Kelly Sullivan as Anna Wintour/Kate very much, but giving her character DID (her alternate personality is Connie, Sonny’s whorish childhood girlfriend) is out of her league. Hardly any actor can change identities successfully in the middle of one scene, and even the mighty Erika Slezak wasn’t called on to does that very often when she played Viki, Niki and her four other alters on One Live to Live. Sullivan is trying, though, and whenever she says, “I’m not Kate, I’m Connie” I automatically jump out of my chair and start putting on red lipstick.

I look forward to the pairing of equally grieving Starr and Michael (who have chemistry and the same exact backgrounds) and I cheer whenever Epiphany is given more scenes to do.  But the most heavenly move the new GH has made is bringing back Finola Hughes as Anna Devane.  Hughes’ Anna is a woman who radiates intelligence and bona fide class, things GH‘s women have needed since….. the Labines and Wendy Riche left.    

But no, the new General Hospital is tragically sticking with Sonny and Jason. Big mistake. At  least I get a chance to scream “Yes” any time a character suggests that they are criminals and less than saints, what Guza’s characters always referred to them to as  Thank you Ron and scriptwriters.

What’s GH’s future?  Who knows?  But I’ll be watching until the very end, mainly  because I enjoy classic soap opera which very nearly resembles the classic shows I grew up on, many decades and lipstick applications ago.

Comments

  1. I’ve been cautiously testing the waters of GH since “Cartini” arrived, and I have to say I have been enjoying most of what I saw.

    I may have been a GL fan but there were times, especially during the Labine years, that I watched GH almost as often. But the Guza years personified everything I disliked about the soap opera genre’s shift to darkness and misogyny, and I hadn’t watched GH in many, many moons.

    I think you’re right about the short time left on GH’s clock, but I will hope you’re wrong. It would be great if the remaining shows could find a way to evolve and survive.

  2. esther says:

    I think you’re right about it being cancelled — and shortly — and it does make me sad.

    I wish the intro of OLTL characters had been more like a gentle caress than a huge truck smacking me upside the head. Yikes. I think it can work, but it was too much too soon for me. The first week OLTL characters got the Friday tag! If I were a GH-only actor, I’d be pretty worried.

    My biggest issue is all the dead kids — and I’m not even a mom! An episode this week revolved around THREE dead kids! Pity Sam couldn’t talk about her previous miscarriage and we could have had four. Since when are dead kids considered entertainment for women?

    Robin’s death was so poorly handled. Our friend Robert said it best — having her die because of the mob would have had a far greater impact. Now she just seems selfish for wanting to help Jason over being a mom to her daughter. The only good thing about that story is what you said — glorious Finola — who needs a contract before you give it to anyone on OLTL. The treatment of Robert, not even staying for his daughter’s funeral after abandoning her so many times in her life, was another slap in the face to both characters and the audience.

    The show has a long way to go but at least it’s here to fight another day. Here’s hoping for many more. Great article

    Marlena says: Thanks {Esther}. I agree with you about the dead babies—I’ve always been against dead babies on soaps, shooting kids in the head etc. But TPTB long ago stopped thinking about the feelings of mothers–and even all women– if you will. So they wonder why so much of the female audience went away….da da! I also agree about that Robin’s death was slapdash and Robert not attending the funeral was beyond the beyond.

  3. pjs says:

    Hi, Connie/Marlena…Great to have a new column again. You made me laugh out loud at 2am as I pictured your “I’m not Kate, I’m Connie!” rush for the red lipstick! I agree that the new (old) GH is so much more enjoyably watchable. Love seeing the OLTL characters again, though they also keep the wound of OLTL’s loss painfully fresh. Katie Couric’s new show will be doomed if GH is not on ABC’s schedule with it. Yes, I am nothing if not a bitter soap fan who expects to be forever disgusted by ABC’s utter dismissal of its soap fans.

    Favorite new GH-moment (of many): During the montage of Robin clips shown during her funeral, for one brief shining moment, we actually saw a shot of John Beradino as Dr, Steve Hardy together with Kimberly McCullough as 6-year old Robin! The once and future Chiefs of Staff of GH paired together in a moment from the distant past that in a way instantly reminds us of how unexpectedly we go on to the future! Dare we hope?

    PS…Connie/Marlena, if you were still writing in SOAP OPERA WEEKLY, it would still be flourishing…whether there were any soaps to write about or not! I sign off as Forever your fan and friend!

    Marlena says: Love you pjs!!! xoxo

  4. Gail says:

    Hi Marlena,

    I tuned back into General Hospital to see the *new* GH and mostly for the return of Robert & Holly again! With the revisiting of Ethan’s paternity, I was sure that Ron would have taken the worst story of any soap in 2009 and changed it into a much better story. But he didn’t. He didn’t do a damned thing with it. I am left wondering what the point was? It felt like salt being poured into the reopened/never healed wounds. He reestablished the cheating, the paternity, and the ridiculous claim that Holly wanted Luke(did anyone tell them it was ROBERT she loved? It ended up being awful. Robert left before Robin’s funeral…Holly was on so fast- she didn’t even have time to change clothes!! and 5 of her 6 episodes were WASTED on Luke. Only 7 minutes of Robert and Holly together, The only bright spot is that Robert and Holly left together. Too bad Ron had to put a lie between them- a couple whose hallmark was TRUST and FIDELITY. :(

  5. Mike says:

    Robert and Holly. SIGH. All time favorite couple bar none. Why has it been so hard for GH to do right by them ? Guza’s writing for them was beyond horrible. Holly, in particular was unrecognizable. Now while I admit, Holly was written much better this time—for the most part—why in the world is Ethan still a Spencer ? New regime–same mistake—and it’s a whopping mistake. It makes my brain bleed trying to figure out how he could even be a Spencer since nothing about that story fits into established GH history at all.

    Now they had the nerve to actually bring up the whole paternity issue again—only to leave him as a Spencer ? Bait and switch yet again. Very cruel thing to do to the fans. While I love that Robert and Holly are out there together somewhere right now—-Luke’s lie is hanging over them. Why is it a lie ? It should be the truth.

    And I am getting so sick of hearing about Holly the con artist and having people talk badly about her. This is Guza’s doing—Ron, please put an end to it already. Holly was a con artist for such a brief time during her GH stay. Her first story and she ended up falling in love with the mark, turning on her family and risking her life to get the people of Port Charles’ their money back. Then she moved on from Luke and found her true love in Robert where they were like the Nick and Nora of PC—solving crimes together. Holly was a very trustworthy, beloved heroine. Please—let’s move away from the garbage Guza wrote and bring back Holly the heroine !

    I really do hope both Robert and Holly will be back and this stupid lie won’t mess things up for them. Tristan and Emma just ooze chemistry still to this day—GH needs to cash in on it. And for crying out loud–make Ethan a Scorpio already !!

  6. Christi says:

    I LOVE Sonny and the mob… if there is no or little mob, I’m probably not going to be interested in watching. It is one of the things which makes it so special to me. As far as Blair.. please NO!!! I just couldn’t even watch her when she was on the screen, sorry. There is something which feels sacharine to me.. something.. she does NOT fit the GH I love. Tristan I would love back.. I don’t understand the hoopla over Holly, sorry. I started watching when everyone claims it was so awful… but it’s the show I fell in LOVE with. If they make it all typical,I’ll have no interest in it. I am not someone who usually likes soaps, but I LOVVVVE GH.

  7. Dee says:

    I really hope you’re right, Connie/Marlena, but it is a work in progress. A work in progress has to take time, but so far, I really haven’t seen any clear improvement: it looks like Jason and Sam are gonna break up again; there’s still dark and violent stories; women are still spineless and wishy-washy; Robin’s death has blown chunks and it was all about poor Jason’s pain and grief; Robert Scorpio was only on five minutes, then he was gone; and they’re still screwing around with Grady Foley Jr.’s paternity, claiming he’s still a damn Spencer. Plus, it looks like McPain will be the center of the show, just like he was in OLTL’s dying days, and it’s still all about the unholy trinity of Jason-Sonny-Carly. Maybe there is hope, I just don’t know.

  8. Moni says:

    dear marlene,

    on every single point, i couldn’t agree with you more! you seem to be the only soap commentator who gets that soaps needs to not insult the intelligence and integrity of its key demographic: women.

    the OLTL characters were a breath of fresh air, mostly in that todd took sonny down a couple notches in his “bad-ass-ness”. like you, anytime the mob violence and lifestyle are criticizes, i cheer. but that kassie depaiva wasn’t given a contract while the 2 men and young women were is simply despicable. kassie has done her time. hers is a beloved character. we don’t know who her father is. and mostly, kassie is a fantastic actress. ron and frank made a big mistake here.

    also, as much as “cartini” are being praised in helping the new GH, they are still keeping the unholy trinity of sonny-jason-carly front and center. yes, there is more balance, but after a decade of ruin due to these characters they simply need to go. they need to fall, go to jail, and generally pay for their many crimes. it could make for great story. and great performances. honestly, i think all 3 actors are solid, but they’ve gotten lazy. the fire and passion that maurice benard had in the mid-90′s is gone; he’s a shell of the actor he was in his heyday.

    finally, i can’t agree enough about the brilliance of finola hughes’s anna devane. she is strong and classy and not the dickensonian heroine that so many other women of GH are. we need her. please sign her asap and continue writing for her.

    this may be a blasphemy to say, but i’ll go there: GH needs to be WORTH saving. in the last decade i can’t say that it has been.

  9. Chris says:

    Now that you just posted Ed Martin’s latest article about GH and his response to Robin coming back from the “grave”, what is your reaction to this latest plot twist, Marlena?

    Marlena says: Well, I agree with Ed mostly. (See my article on GH below.) I’m glad Robin is alive, proving my point that they are doing classic soap opera. (What’s more classic than a back-from-the dead story?) The site of Jason in his black tee shirt makes me ill, and I can’t wait for Sonny to go on trial. (Although I’ll bet Connie shot out Anthony’s tires and Sonny will go free once again.) But otherwise, I enjoyed the visit of the OLTL characters and Carlivati and Valentini’s story choices don’t bother me very much. I’m just glad to have a good soap to watch every afternoon, and to have a good friend in Ed who writes so well and is so generous in his contributions to this column.

  10. janet says:

    I have just one thing to say, If it is still going to be about the unholy three,whomever is in charge,who needs it?
    Robert might just as well have stayed away. They destroyed him. Anna needs to stay. She is the first one lately on the show,I see her face and Don’t reach for the remote FF city.
    I was surprised to see Robin was still alive except the way she died no last death scene,and the body burned beyond recognition,=soap can come back..
    I still watch ,if I remember. But I don’t care. The oltls cast,same thing.Who cares.Now if Todd had put a bullet in Sonny.I would have liked that.
    GH needs to be a soap. I have watched soaps for years and the mob is NOT something I want to watch.
    Before ABC saves GH they need to want to. I am just angry enough to shut ABC off forever if I have to.Who needs it. Revalution, Chew .Not my thing.

  11. LD says:

    I had stopped watching GH ever since it turned into the Saint Sonny/Jason/Carly show. And for those who say they love the mob and would stop watching if they weren’t on the show…where’s the balance? A little of the mob goes a long way and they’ve ruled the show for too many years now, to the detriment of the rest of the show/characters.

    That’s what i loved about OLTL, there was a balance. No one show or character was center stage all the time. The vets weren’t shuffled off, only to be brought out during the holidays to give the show a sense of family or warmth that it lacked the rest of the year. I miss OLTL and though I fear GH is not far behind to be cancelled, I can’t really say I will miss it.

  12. Nancy says:

    Carlivati and Valentini aren’t stupid. They know what the fans want. They know we all hate Sonny and Jason and want their destruction. But, most of all Carlivati and Valentini know the show is ending. And I think that’s what they’re building toward and what they were hired to do – write the show’s end. I think we’ll all get what we want. I think everything you’re seeing is important to the end, and that is final justice for Sonny. There have been a couple of clues in the dialogue recently. Sonny to Jason: “The crazy always comes out in the end.” I think we’ll see Sonny snap before long. And, then there was Sam to Jason last week: “C’mon, Jason, you have to admit we’d be free if Sonny went away.” I’m keeping my fingers crossed this is where it’s headed. I just wish they’d get a move on.

  13. susan says:

    Dear Marlena

    I so agree with you..

    when i speak on it with the group that i’m on..i say that ron could have had john come on for something else other then that big story wtih sonny like why couldn’t he investigate something that edward had done in the past, or tracy, she was married to the mob wasn’t she.

    i do often wonder if someone still isn’t dictating to them what to write, because the entire show being still about sonny and jason is making it beyond boring for me.

    the only character from one life that i really did want to come on is john, and he has me disappointed, because it is with sonny, it’s really time to put his character to rest once and for all.

    or maybe he would have come to town to investigate luke, i mean anyone but sonny, would have made a great story as far as i’m concerned.

    susan

  14. Dee says:

    I hope you’re right, Nancy. I really do. But it will never happen, according to the trajectory of this show.

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