Sunday Reflections 19: General Hospital’s Faison and the Tale of the Two Dukes — Preposterous, but a Real Soaps Sweeps Thrill Ride

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

Wasn’t this week’s General Hospital just awesome November sweeps entertainment?  I mean, it wasn’t Doug Marland-esque deep meaningful soap opera but it still was drama that was super exciting, full of shock, suspense and surprise, arising deep out of the soap’s history.  With the return of Faison and Robert, added to the already present Anna and ‘Duke,” GH was again rocking as it did in the show’s golden era.

Anders Hove as Cesar Faison
Evil redux!

Monday’s episode was just sublime when fake Duke whipped off his mask and revealed himself to be … a very, very threatening looking man named Cesar Faison. I missed the Faison years, but still just screamed at the sight of this obviously crazy man.  (They’d never cast anyone who looked like this in daytime these days — unless he whipped off his shirt and had terrific pecs!)  By the end of the episode, however, I saw why actor Anders Hove had been so celebrated in the soap world: he is so great at being just vicious!  His scenes with Robin were just terrifying.  (“Child, I always thought you were too smart for your own good.”)

Also revealed at the end of this episode — thank goodness — was that the real Duke wasn’t dead, just tied to a bed, and that Ian Buchanan will be staying on GH.  A day later, enter Tristan Rogers’ Scorpio to solve the mystery of the two Dukes.  For the rest of the week Hove switched places with Buchanan to alternately play the fake “Duke.”  To clarify: Buchanan played the “Duke” when the Faison was wearing the latex “Duke” mask. It was all so ingenious and fun!

A real stroke of creativity this Friday was having Olivia “see” the real Faison in one of her visions when she was actually looking at “Duke.”  From the description of that vision, Liz, using her little mentioned talent in art, drew a police like sketch of Faison for Robert, solving the mystery.

 Will Robert get to “Duke’s” apartment in time Monday to stop Anna from sleeping with the fake Duke – er, the icky Faison?  Of course, if she does she will realize that the man she is having sex with is not her real husband. Does anyone remember from All My Children the incredulous look on Trevor’s face when he woke up realizing he had just had sex, not with his love with Natalie, but her evil twin Janet?

Oh mon chers, all of this could only happen on soaps. And of course, the tale of the two Dukes is preposterous.  Even Hove thinks so, admitting in an interview that he is two inches shorter than Buchanan. But who cares? This week’s GH was an absolute soap thrill ride, partially because none of the story action was revealed in advance in spoilers. Soap operas the way they ought to be!

I’d also like to note that in the excitement, no one even missed Jason, who’s only been dead for three weeks.  I also worry that GH is using up too much of its precious past history.  What are they going to do to top this?

Happy Turkey Day

What do you think, loyal GH viewers? Is the newly returned Faison as nasty as he used to be? (As I say to my students, please be specific.)  Overall, did this week’s worth of episodes measure up to the old show?

Finally, Happy Thanksgiving to all my Thinking Fans, with love, from Moose, Marlena and Nigel. 

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    I LOVE CESAR FAISON!!!! Anders Hove is doing a great job playing the evil bad guy on GH! I have never seen Faison during his original stint in the early 90′s (and his return in 1999-2000 either), but I’m loving what I’m seeing so far! I’m also glad and relieved that the real Duke Lavery is still alive! This “Tale of Two Dukes” storyline on GH reminds me of something that the late daytime soap head writer James E. Reilly would’ve written for both DAYS and Passions back in the 90′s and 2000′s! On another note, what do you think of the news of Erik Valdez (who plays Trey Mitchell on GH, the son of the late mobster Joe Scully Jr. and Kate Howard/Connie Falconeri) leaving GH? I hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving, Marlena!!!

    Marlena says: I love Faison too and I’m really surprised about Eric Velez. He’s improved a lot since he came on the show. Will his exit be a plot thing? Thanks, dear. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Chris!!

  2. JONNYSBRO says:

    Marlena I am loving your GH praising Faison/Duke. It was a completely genius reveal that was so unexpected. The whole thing was so kept secret. Great twist. I am so glad Ron Carlivati is revisiting this and putting Finola in a frontburner storyline this is what sells GH. Isn’t Anders Hoves honestly the creepiest most scary villian ever in daytime? We have our cartoon villians, crazy ones but he is just so SCARY and what a brilliant performance. Its amazing how much GH went from dead man walking to now a SIZZLING HOT SOAP. Kudos to FV/RC who IMO have almost survived their first year which looked like it would never happen. I am so excited to see GH keep climbing and hopefully with that we get a multi-year renewel. Keeping GH is smart it boosts the Chew and boosts Katie. A win-win for ABC keeping the show.

    Marlena says: You said it all, Jonnysbro. Anders Hove is certainly the creepiest villain of all time!

  3. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    It was indeed an excellent week on GH. Ron and Frank know how to deliver exciting shows and have truly done magic with GH.

    Loved all the Faison-Duke stuf. amazing how invested I am in this plot, especially given that I wasn’t watching GH during the late 80s, early 90s when Duke and Faison were on. Just shows that good actors can convey so much history in the characters.

    Am really loving AJ’s return. Sean Kanan owns this role. He has just walked back into the canvas so perfectly. In fact, I’m now having a hard time remembering Billy Warlock in the role, even though Billy played in for 8 years and Sean only played it for 4. But then, I had a similar reaction when Jonathan Jackson returned as Lucky. (Greg Vaughn who?)

    Nice to see the AJ isn’t being written as the villain and that Sonny & Carly aren’t being written as the heroes. All of them are being shown with shades of grey. In fact, I found Carly’s confession to Michael about her part in the AJ situation some of Laura Wright’s strongest work ever. .

    Interestingly, I’m also caring about the Michael character now. Have disliked the character since they SORASed him into an adult — he’s either played the sad sack or the sanctimonious son/brother. So, its very nice to see him play the complicated emotions involved in his father’s return.

    And what about Anna taking Dante off the AJ case because of conflict of interest?!?! This definitely isn’t Guza’s GH anymore.

    And there’s so much potential waiting for us. Will Tracy get the house that Monica put up as bail money for AJ? Will Robin escape the clinic? Will she be able to save the real Duke in the process? And most importantly, will Robin’s return to Port Charles be the climatic moment of the upcoming Nurse’s Ball.

    Marlena says: Yes, GH is certainly firing on all burners now. They’ve made wonderful use of Sean Kanan, who as I wrote two weeks ago is very good. They’ve also really effectively used the element of suspense. which soaps don’t have to necessarily have to use budget on. You said it, James: this isn’t Guza’s show anymore!

  4. Marlene — I’ve watched GH since the 60′s but recently I’ve been turned off by the Great Guza era. The new team is a puzzle: are they writing towards the rumored finale and trying to get all the old timers back in, or do they think that the current story arcs will give GH a reprieve.

    The Duke Mask is STOOOPID! Can you picture Ana not knowing that she’s kissing latex?
    And when the mask is off Faison, the hair is obviously latex, but when it’s ‘on’ it’s Duke’s hair. Aaaaargh!

    The sudden switch from Dante’s mop-top to the new, shorter style, gets nary a comment from any of his co-actors?

    My favorite couple is Spinelli and Ellie and I have no sympathy for Maxie who deserves what she gets.

    And, finally, how will TPTB handle the Thanksgiving Pizza story-line with Edward gone? They are going to admit this, right? What happened to the ‘tribute’ to him that was planned a couple of months ago?

    Whew! Off my soap box for a while.

    To you, and all the dwindling GH fans out there, a very Happy Thanksgiving.

    Marlena says: There’s an old expression in my Italian family: Saus-each his own! (You know like sausage.) Everyone’s opinion counts! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Jim.

    • Chris says:

      Don’t worry Jim! GH is going to do its tribute to Edward Quartermaine when they will kill off the character next week and have his funeral (along with the traditional Thanksgiving pizza dinner!) next week, along with the returns of Skye Quartermaine and Ned Ashton!

      • Kudos to the GH writers for their scripts on the Edward Quartermain send-off. And wasn’t Jane Alexander’s heart-tugging performance magnificent? A consummate actress!
        What a perfect ending to the story as Edward and his beloved Lila walked up the stairs to eternity.

        Marlena says: I agree, Jim. I think you mean Jane Elliot, another great actress named Jane.

  5. horselover says:

    I am absolutely LOVING GH! The entire show too! I can’t remember the last time I said that. It had to be well over a decade ago. I was never a huge AJ fan, and suddenly I look forward to his every scene. I love that he is getting a POV where Sonny and Carly are concerned. I love that there is life again in the Quartermaine mansion. Monica and Tracy sparring has never felt so good.

    But most of all, I am loving that the vets (Robert, Duke, Anna and Faison) are in the center of a wonderful storyline. I always thought Faison was GH’s best all-time villain, and he has not disappointed this time around. Anders Hove is wonderful. I love seeing Anna’s love for Duke – even though this is not the real Duke. I’m so grateful FV and RC showed us the RealDuke – otherwise I don’t think I could get through the storyline. And lastly, I’m grateful Robert Scorpio is back in town and in investigative mode. Now we just need Holly back and all will be right with the world. (Well, I wouldn’t mind having Laura back as well!) Bravo to FV and RC! GH is back!

  6. SZima says:

    Great shows last week and this week, so far so good. GH is finally “must see TV.”

    My favorite scene though? When Anna opened the door and Robert was there! My heart skipped a beat or three! He looks wonderful and I’m so glad he’s back and figuring out that Duke isn’t Duke. Hope Tristan sticks around for a very long time…a woman my age needs a little fantasy too!

    • SZima says:

      Oh, and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Marlena!

      Marlena says: Thanks, Szima. A happy holiday to you and yours, too.

  7. William says:

    Oh how I wish I could make it past the believability issues to enjoy GH. I had a bit of hope before the toxic water and mask stuff. Having read your columns for, well, I won’t say how many years, I do value your opinion, Marlena. After all, you are perhaps the reason I know I can expect great things from soaps, that perhaps we should even demand that soaps be written for the thinking fan.

    I feel like viewers are able to put aside the believability issues and enjoy GH. But for some reason I can’t. I love that we’ve gotten away from the Sonny show. I love the veteran returns even though I don’t always love how they are used. I love the re-birth of the Q’s. But when I start feeling embarrassed to be watching, I must turn off the TV. This regime has shown they can deliver an emotional, soapy and believable story. It makes me wonder why they wallow in camp. When any character can rip off a mask and change into another character, what’s the reason I’m supposed to care about a story’s outcome? When death is a gimmick that can be reversed, why should I feel emotion when we “lose” a beloved character? Paternity tests mean nothing. Heather Webber escapes from lock up easier than you or I could walk through our front door. Sure, I know soaps have always used these plots. Current GH is practically an homage to the campy days of GH in the 80′s. And I know that some soap fans LOVE this kind of storytelling. Look at GH’s ratings rise. But I can’t help but remember that GH once upon a time told believable heartfelt stories. I can’t help but think back to a time when there was at least one show among the soaps that was trying to push the genre to new and more believable heights. GH can go from creative lows to creative highs. They did it in the mid-1990′s. But I don’t feel that way about this change in GH. I love most of what they’ve taken away. I’m forever grateful for those changes. I just don’t like much of what they’ve replaced it with.

    That being said, I do see this regime’s talents. The Edward tribute was the best soap I’ve seen since Labine left GH. It was so good it couldn’t even be ruined by the silliness of Heather appearing with knife or the return from the dead references about AJ. This writing team CAN write great scenes. But they rob their own greatness with so much unbelievability thrown in the mix.

    I’m happy soap fans are finding much to love in GH. I hope this return to GH’s campy roots will save GH. But I have my doubts that this kind of unbelievable story-telling has broad appeal, that it’s not just another reason people make fun of soaps.

    But maybe this regime knows what to do to please the most folks. After all, I’m still watching and that’s much more than I can say for the horrible reign of Phelps/Guza at GH.

    As always, I enjoy reading your columns!

    Marlena says; It means so much to me that you enjoy my columns! Yes, GH is often preposterous this days, but it is a combination of this production team’s style and just keeping the damned show alive. Sadly, not many soaps these days are deep and meaningful as you and I traditionally like them. It is very, very sad. But what the team is doing now is presenting pure light entertainment with a lot of showmanship (all the cliffhangers, return of 80′s characters, etc) I like watching, even though my heart and soul aren’t satisfied. But then again, I’m just happy to have the show still live on! At this time last year, it looked like GH was going to be cancelled. Now, it is going gangbusters in the ratings. Who knew?

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