General Hospital: How to Keep the Magic Going

By Ed Martin 

I understand the 50th anniversary excitement on General Hospital will continue for most of the rest of this year, even if certain aspects of it are beginning to die down. The fun and excitement that has permeated Port Charles of late still seems like some kind of miracle after at least 15 years of turgid mob drama and virulent disrespect for the show’s loyal audience. As a veteran viewer of 35 years I couldn’t

Like millions of other viewers the returns of so many legacy characters, the countless references to so many plot points dating back over 30 years and the utter absence of mob action has me over the moon. But …

be happier with much of what I have seen in recent weeks, when the vibe of the show has actually come close to the power it had circa 1978-1985, the years when GH enjoyed its highest ratings and widest profit margins. 

Like millions of other viewers the returns of so many legacy characters, the countless references to so many plot points dating back over 30 years and the utter absence of mob action has me over the moon. That can’t last forever, but I would like to at least remain afloat even after this nostalgic trip runs its course, as it inevitably must. So here are a few unsolicited suggestions for how that might happen.

I would like to never again see Helena or Stavros Cassadine. Thirty years of the fabled Cassadine Curse has been enough. This story is played. It’s time to move on to something new. This was never intended to be an arc that would span so many decades. 

I would like to see Emily Quartermaine return from the dead, and I would like Natalia Livingston to continue portraying her, even on a limited basis. Was I the only one who noticed how Spirit Emily lit up the Quartermaine living room during Monica and Tracy’s relish-induced fever dream (or whatever the heck that was)? 

I would love to see the Rick Webber mess of 2002 cleaned up. There must be a way to rewrite bad soap stories from years past – after all, dozens of soap scribes over the years have had no difficulty rewriting good soap history, even when viewers haven’t wanted them to do so! I don’t mind at all if this means bringing Rick back from the dead, as well. Remember, when Spirit Rick appeared to Monica and Tracy he said something about the past not being what it seemed. And it was a joy to see Chris Robinson again. That stupid story about Rick’s secret affair with a nurse forever stained Rick and Scotty, and it played fast and loose with the classic Lesley-Rick-Monica romantic triangle that did as much for the show during its best years as any Luke and Laura adventure. The clean up could involve Rick and Lesley’s adopted son Mike Webber, whom I don’t remember being mentioned during the 50th anniversary hoopla, and maybe a guest appearance by Rick’s other ex, Ginny Blake Webber (if the awesome Judith Chapman can get a few days off from The Young and the Restless). The possibilities for this storyline are endless. The urgent need for a Rick fix is profound. 

And speaking of Lesley, where the heck was Denise Alexander during the show’s 50th anniversary celebration? We know Lesley is off at Nikolas’ home in Lake Como, taking care of little Spencer, but what the heck is that all about? Is Alexander ailing? Why wouldn’t (or couldn’t) she come home for a day or two? We need to see Lesley and Laura together again. Theirs is the most memorable mother-daughter relationship in the history of daytime drama. 

I would like to see Brenda Barrett leave Port Charles once and for all. Like all things Cassadine, her perpetually pointless storylines are played out. I’ll always have fond memories of Sonny and Brenda and their fabulous mess of a relationship, but that story is long over. 

And speaking of Sonny, what to do with him now that it is abundantly clear that nobody wants GH to return to stories of mob-related madness and murder? Can he go legit? Can he simply leave town? Would that be so bad? (Seriously, does anyone miss hit-man Jason?) After what we’ve seen on GH during the last few months, a mob story would be as welcome as more vampire nonsense. 

There. I said it! That bizarre turn into faux-vampire melodrama two months ago was an epic fail in every way: story, acting, direction, production values, etc. Happily, GH is so strong these days that it sustained what could have been a fatal blow. Remember, such ill-advised supernatural stuff was the very thing that killed the long-forgotten GH spin-off Port Charles ten years ago! Why damage GH and so grievously compromise the Lucy Coe character just to satisfy the six people who were watching PC during its death throes? I don’t ever want to hear the name Caleb Morley again, though that isn’t going to be easy with young Rafe around. 

And speaking of Rafe, I’d like to see him come between Molly and TJ in a fun summertime storyline filled with over the top teeny-something drama, the likes of which GH hasn’t winningly served up since the Laura-Scotty-Bobbie story way back in Seventies (when Bobbie was a royal rhymes-with-witch). 

And speaking of Bobbie, wasn’t it great to have her back in town? Can we have Jacklyn Zeman back as various storylines involving Bobbie’s daughter, brother, grand-children and other relatives might dictate? And can we please get periodic updates on her renewed friendship and professional relationship with Dr. Noah Drake out in Seattle? (Wasn’t that the nicest surprise to come out of all that 50th anniversary excitement?) 

I’d like to see new love interests for Tracy and Monica. When I think of Tracy with Luke or with Joe Scully Jr., and of Monica with Alan, it seems that the show is missing out on something special without love stories for the two of them. Wouldn’t it be great if a hot younger man fell for Tracy? I mean really fell for her, without any ulterior motives? Jane Elliot (who really ought to be nominated for an Emmy this year) would hit that one out of the park. 

Meantime, how about a sex life or love life for poor Felix? There must be another gay man somewhere in Port Charles. If not, he should hurry over to Salem, where he can take his pick. 

I’d like for there to be something new for Duke to do. I’m still not sure why GH went to such great lengths to bring him back from the dead … not when there are so many other deceased characters whose returns would really charge up the show and clear away the dark clouds that have hovered over it since they died. And yes, I’m talking about Alan Quartermaine, Emily Quartermaine, Rick Webber and Georgie Jones. 

And speaking of Georgie, surely there is some way to bring her back from the great beyond? She’d be a great source of support for the perpetually perplexed Maxie, and she would be a welcome addition to the story of Mac and Felicia, currently the show’s most delightful romance (and one that must continue). 

I’d like to see Robert return to Port Charles, perhaps with Holly, absent any memories of Robin being alive or Luke lying to him about Ethan’s parentage. Perhaps he could work with Kevin Collins at trying to remember what he saw in that Swiss clinic and finally figure out that his daughter isn’t dead. Then he, Anna and anyone else who cares to could once and for all get down to the business of rescuing Robin. At this point I don’t think it would hurt to recast the character – after all, three actresses have portrayed Carly, the female lead of the show. The story of Robin’s disappearance simply isn’t interesting enough to drag out on an indefinite basis. And I can’t imagine why Jerry Jacks would bother doing it. 

Lastly, I wonder if we really need Michael Easton, Roger Howarth and Kristen Alderson back on the canvas as three new characters. There are already too many doubles in play: Sam and Lizzie, McBain and Morley, Tomas and Lorenzo. Can we really be expected to accept three more? I still can’t believe Prospect Park is being so churlish about ownership rights to the characters of John McBain, Todd Manning and Starr Manning. Why not let them briefly appear on the revived One Life to Live and then head back to GH? If the new OLTL can’t survive without these three characters then chances are it’s doomed. If I’m being honest, GH doesn’t really need any of them, but if they have to return to Port Charles I would rather they be themselves.

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Ed Martin writes regularly for MediaPost.com, MediaBizBloggers.com, TV Worth Watching and the Huffington Post. He’s been the programming and entertainment editor for several JackMyers Report publications since 2000, including The Myers Programming Report, The Jack Myers Entertainment Report and, at present, Ed Martin’s TV Buzz and TiVoWorthy TV on JackMyers.com. Follow Ed Martin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PlanetEd.

Comments

  1. Kevin says:

    Stunning report card, Ed.

    Most I agreed with, still some I didn’t but the “Seriously, does anyone miss hit-man Jason?” query was sheer poetry. I for one felt a huge weight was lifted off this show when Steve Burton departed for Tenne …. er, Genoa City pastures.

    • Ed Martin says:

      I would be okay with Jason returning if his most recent injuries somehow turned him back into the Good Jason from the Nineties … the one who wanted to become a doctor and save lives rather than be a killer and end them. How would Jason reconcile all the terrible things he did after his brain was first damaged? This would be a sensational role for an actor. I have to admit I’m not sure Steve Burton would be up to the challenge.

      • tess says:

        That cute little Danny could be Jason’s reason for wanting to reform and cease his criminal ways. Jason could think about the stuff he saw Sonny’s children endure because of Sonny’s criminal lifestyle and Jason doesn’t want Danny to endure any of that. He wants to be a father Danny would be proud of.

  2. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    Great piece! And I mainly agree.

    However, I think you’ve been reading some of the ridiculously biased reports about PP and the online OLTL. Hollywood Reporter posted the full lawsuit (seriously, read it–it’s hilarious and reads more like fanfic than legal-eaze). As ridiculous as I find it, the lawsuit was instigated over the very fact that Prospect Park TRIED to organize a cross-over for the three major Llanview characters. They apparently got Roger a Todd simply because he didn’t sign the three year contract, but only a year-long one (the other actors were signed to three year ones and not told by ABC that their characters were only licensed for a year–of course back then everyone thought the online soaps were dead, but the crew at GH knew as early as the Summer that PP was trying to work something out to bring them back.)

    PP have acted childishly–but so have ABC and technically PP are well within their rights. Obviously PP only created the lawsuit when they were upset that GH was trying to pull their already-bought advertising (interestingly, since the lawsuit came out ABC finally and immediately handed over the allmychildren and onelifetolive domain names–which was one thing the suit addressed–and have added three of the PP stars to this Thursday’s The View.)

  3. Hi Ed,

    I agree with most of your article, apart from the Cassadine/Spencer feud. I feel that the previous regime under Guza/JFP didn’t due the storyline justice. They turned Helena into more of a cartoon character than a real threat. I would love it if the whole Rick Webber/Scott Baldwin storyline turned out to be false, that Helena had been secretly drugging Laura to make her think that whole storyline happened specifically to drive her crazy. Which means the reason Laura got well is because the drugs finally left her system. That way Rick Webber could come back and be part of GH, along with either Mike or his son by Ginny, Rick Webber Jr.

    I also agree that it’s was a total waste to bring Lesley Webber back from the dead only to turn her into a glorified babysitter for Lulu and now Spencer. She should have been back at the hospital years ago, in a triangle with Alan and Monica. How great would that have been, to see Lesley get back at Monica by falling for Alan? Alan and Lesley always had a strong friendship, and he could have turned to her when he was having his drug problems.

    It’s long past time to bring Rick Lansing back to PC. I can think of at least 3 women he could romance, including Olivia, Connie and more importantly Tracy. Perhaps, AJ hires Rick to be corporate counsel at ELQ, and promises him extra cash and stock options if he romances Tracy. In the meantime he falls for Connie whose magazine is bought by ELQ. Also didn’t Sonny at some point own stock in ELQ? If the show wants him to go legitimate, let him get involved with ELQ business, and that way he and AJ can but heads over Michael as well as the business.

    As for Duke, the show is so busy trying to recapture the Anna/Duke relationship, that they are neglecting the fact that the man spent 20 years in a Turkish prison. Who put him there? Faison or was it one of his other enemies. If GH is ever to revisit the mob storylines of the past, do it with Duke’s past, not Sonny’s. Perhaps one of the Jerome’s did this to Duke. It would also be a good way to bring back Bobbie’s son Lucas who is actually the offspring of Julian Jerome and Tiffany’s sister Cheryl Stansbury.

    • Ed Martin says:

      Great thoughts about Rick Lansing and also the Jeromes. There must be one out there somewhere. I agree, the Duke story has been somewhat shallow. There should be much more to tell. And thanks for mentioned Rick Webber Jr. I had forgotten all about him. Wouldn’t it be great to see all those Webbers back on the canvas?

  4. horselover says:

    Wow. I absolutely love everything you wrote about GH. Everything. I also have been watching GH for 35 years minus a few during the mob-heavy Guza-Phelps years. I loved a lot of the 50th Anniversary celebration but there were five characters that I felt should have been there and were not: Robin, Robert, Holly, Lucky and Lesley. I understand not being able to coordinate schedules but I do think more of an effort should have been made to have some of them do a cameo of sorts. We could have seen Robin in captivity watching the Nurses Ball. We could have seen Holly sitting next to Robert’s beside with some flashbacks. It would have been nice to show Lesley with Spencer. And it certainly would have been better to see Lucky instead of Ethan on that boat.

    I hope we get to see these five characters sometime down the road. No offense to all the Richard Simmons and Rick Springfield fans, but those five characters deserved to be shown during the 50th anniversary more than Richard and Rick.

  5. janet says:

    No more mob. That says it all. I had shut the show off for a number of years. Starting when they killed AJ. until the return of JJ.Then they even ruined that.
    FrankenRon are doing a somewhat good job,But the Jeromes are also mob. The anniversary show has been watchable which is more than I can say about the unholy three years. Sonny should have left with Brenda never to be seen again. If Jason returns in any form I am leaving..Faison became my hero,when he shot Jason ands pushed him in the harbor. Fish food forever.Courtney and Jason swimming in the sea kissing.yuck. the harbor is now polluted. The show needed the changes it has made all isn’t wonderful but it certainly is 1000 times better.

  6. SZima says:

    Ed Martin, I think I love you! You have so eloquently expressed all MY feelings about so many stories/plots on this show. I wasn’t watching in the “glory days” so I can’t speak on the returns of some of the old characters, but I agree 110% with you about the Cassadines, Brenda Barrett, mob & vampire stories, Robin’s disappearance (recast yes!) and the returning OLTL characters/actors!!
    At last…a voice of reason!

  7. natnic says:

    What I appreciate about this show is the variety of stories. If you don’t like the Patrick/Sabrina/Britt plot there is plenty of other stories to entertain you. I’m especially liking the Lulu recast.

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