Port Charles is Frustration City

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

As noted last week and confirmed by the passionate reaction in the letters section, there seems to be massive dissatisfaction with General Hospital right now.   And it’s not only the appearance of three new characters with too-familiar faces (played by Kristin Alderson, Michael Easton and Roger Howarth).  The show is frustrating to watch, with too many stories that need quick resolutions or some casting corrections.   I have some ideas on how these stories might be improved.

Roger Howarth, now a blond and annoying mysterioso

1. Identify the mystery character played by Roger Howarth ASAP. The guessing game as to who this sinister blond is has gone on about two weeks too long. Is he Jason?  Is he Franco?  Is he a triplet we’ve never heard of? Is this the return of The Talented Mr. Ripley? The guessing game has gone on about two weeks too long, and it’s more confusing and thus annoying by the day.   We’ve seen him happily meet harmoniously with baddie Heather and let himself in with a key to good girl Sam’s apartment.  Franco, Sam’s rapist, is a ruined character. Would the show really waste a star actor like Howarth on another version of Jason, a character is so identified with the actor Steve Burton (who is now on The Young and the Restless)? Here’s hoping the producers have more imagination.  The beginning of his party on the Haunted Star this week will be a much needed big reveal

2. Who is the father of Britt’s baby?  Tell us, immediately!   Britt’s condition was revealed just about the time Patrick finally revealed his feelings for Sabrina, something we had waited for almost three-quarters of a year.  An instant baby “fathered” by Patrick is too pat a relationship spoiler. Or could Britt really be carrying Dante and Lulu’s baby?  The story is too frustrating to go one for six more long months. Reveal the identity of the baby’s father right away! Please!

3. Review and think about fine tuning the young casting.  Mark Teschner is probably the best casting agent in the soap business, but his choices of late have been disappointing. Jimmy Deshler, who plays Rafe, appears to be incapable of more than scowling, and Bryan Craig, who plays the very central character Morgan (son of Carly and Sonny), seems to be a limited actor beyond his nicely developing young pecs.  Neither seems up to the challenge of carrying a story. GH should bring in stronger young actors now, as summertime is always the season when young soap stories are highlighted.  

Your turn, Thinking Fans. Any suggestions for getting GH back on track? 

Comments

  1. Elissa says:

    I am intrigued by the notion that Britt’s baby isn’t Patrick’s! Do we the audience know that or are you just making an educated guess? I am an avid watcher but sometimes I get a little FF happy. I would super like it if she used one of Lulu and Dante’s embryos, because the Spawnelli storyline is very squick to me.

    Marlena asks: What is “squick?”

  2. Chris says:

    I agree with all of your ideas about improving GH, Marlena! Also, what do you think about PP firing their head writers (Thom Racina, OLTL and Marlene McPherson and Elizabeth Snyder, AMC) that they originally hired for the AMC and OLTL online reboots, and replacing them with new head writers (Chip Hayes and Lisa Connor, AMC and Jessica Klein and Marin Gazzaniga, OLTL), who previously worked as script writers on their respective shows and on other daytime soaps and/or primetime shows?

  3. Diana says:

    You are absolutely right, they ruined Franco, he;s a criminal wanted by the police/FBI for murder, how can RH be Franco? (and the hair has to change, yuk!) And he definitely can’t be Jason. .RC did the same lurking storyline for the return of Todd on OLTL, OMG, by the time people saw him, we were tired of the lurky looks Starr/Kiki/Lauren needs to go. I didn’t care for her Starr acting and now trying to be snarky/badgirl doesn’t work either, so she can ride off with the less than skilled Morgan into the sunset. Mr. Easton would have made a better Cassidine, maybe the slightly mentioned Valentine? He’s got the brooding Cassidine look down pat but I realize they want him to hook up with Sam so I guess that wouldn’t have worked since it would make them related. They are going to have to give him a better personality. I would have preferred that they simply be done with the OLTL actors rather than make them come back as bad characters.
    The whole Britt pregnacy is ridiculous, one time in a shower and she looks to be 5-6 mos. along. Patrick is a stud but really and why haven’t they had him ask for a paternity test? She has lied so much, isn’t that the first thing you’d do? I’m sure it will be Dante and Lulu’s baby egg, that’s the only answer that makes sense and they have foreshadowed that.
    It’s sad that GH was must see tv for a while and now I find myself FF through a lot. Beyond some of acting disappointments, some of the stories are just lame. I don’t care about Morgan story, but that could be the actors. Love Alexis but I find no chemistry between her and Shawn plus, how many times did she get on Sam for being with Sonny’s enforcer and now she is? I’d rather see more Tracy, Elizabeth, Nikolas, Luke Laura, resolve Lulu’s memory because it’s annoying that she says she wants to remember but gets mad if Dante wants to help, knowing he’s your husband, wouldn’t you trust him because you married him? Have Patrick grow a brain. I could go on but you only have so much time. Thanks for asking so I could vent.

  4. Chris says:

    And also Marlena, what do you think of PP casting five new cast members to OLTL?: Ron Raines (ex-Alan, GL) will be playing Carl Petersen, Jeffrey Wright’s mysterious benefactor and businessman (he debuts August 20th), Paolo Seganti (ex-Damian, ATWT) will be playing Arturo Bandini, a wealthy man whose family is influential in the art world (he debuts on June 27th), Marnie Schulenberg (ex-Allison, ATWT) will play Jo Sullivan, a producer for David Vickers’ reality show (she debuts on July 23rd), Amber Skye Noyes (who is the sister of Tyler Noyes, who played C.J. Roberts on OLTL back in the 90′s) will be playing Michelle, Matthew Buchanan’s online girlfriend (she debuts on June 27th), and Alice Callahan (Gossip Girl) will be playing Kate, Jack Manning’s summer school teacher (she debuts on June 27th).

    Marlena says: I love Ron Raines!

  5. About Patrick’s quote baby unquote. For a storyline based in a building full of medical “professionals” the quick acceptance all around that the baby was Patrick’s is mind-boggling.

    The intrigue , for me, is how Dante is going to be able to handle the fact that Britt’s baby is his! BTW, don’t they have at least one more sperm to use?

    There’s a long-standing trend in soap writing that when two characters meant to be together, ALWAYS start out hating each other at the beginning. Sam and Silas????Michael and Kiki??? Blech, or some other reaction.

    Now that Spinelli’s character is on recurring, what happen to his possible parentage storyline?

  6. redontop4 says:

    Mark Teschner is excellent at finding young talent, but it is up to his EP to select from the talent he finds (and then the network to approve it). Wendy Riche and Jill Farren Phelps, their flaws notwithstanding, both have/had fine taste in actors and are willing to admit their mistakes and cut their losses when required (see Adriana on JFP’s Y&R). Five years ago I marveled at the strength of GH’s younger set, usually the weakest group on soaps. All of the actors who played Michael, Morgan, Kristina, and Molly in the JFP years were strong, natural child actors. Frank Valentini, on the other hand, proved at OLTL to be a less gifted judge of talent as he hired a slew of pretty but weak actors to fill out his under-25 roles. Unfortunately, he has brought his dubious casting taste to GH, and the show is suffering for it

  7. heidi says:

    I enjoyed your column and am glad you are back! I have to first say that GH is my favorite soap now and always. I don’t think it is that off track. I agree with some of your concerns!

    Yes… after watching Friday’s show… I was addressing RC out loud and saying… I just want to know who RH is playing… what is his name? I believe we will find out who he is next week at the party/reveal… I can wait and don’t really mind the build up… if it is for the right name/character. Based on all we have seen… he is either a Quartermaine or a Cassadine… with the long shot of being a Jerome. As to which Q… I am hoping he is Alexander or if we must endure the notion of a real Franco versus the James Franco “Franco”, the real Franco. I wouldn’t mind if it is someone we aren’t aware of yet like a son of Heather and Alan or Alan and someone else. I like Roger and know he will do well whomever he plays.

    I agree about knowing who Brit’s baby daddy is. I so want it not to be Patrick’s. I would like to see Brit off our canvas and not have to endure this story line but she is on contract and we are stuck with her for a while. Hopefully before Bradford Anderson decided to go recurring… Spinelli will discover how many embryos are left and who is carrying the missing ones… since the hospital can’t seem to find out what is and isn’t happening right under their noses.

    His casting is generally spot on… but not with Lindsay Morgan and Bryan Craig. I like the Rafe character and Jimmy’s portrayal. He is a kid that has not had a good life and proper socialization skills and he seems to be trying to play that. Plus… I like him so much better with Molly than with TJ. The other younger character that I think is miscast is the new Cameron… this would seem to be the first time they reversed ages and not the usual sorased kids. Oh… forgot about the little girl who plays Jocelyn… I think they could do so much better… I am spoiled with the wonderful Brooklyn Rae who plays Emma so beautifully. She should never be recast.

  8. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    Ahh, things Ron and Frank can do to fix GH.

    1. Put Genie Francis front and center. Make her a central part of the show, build storylines around her. My frustration with her return is how marooned she has been. Still waiting for her to chat with Monica about Edward’s death. Still waiting for her to offer her condolences about Robin’s death to Patrick. Still waiting for her to have a purpose for being in Port Charles other than the 50th anniversary celebration.

    2. Make Lesley the matriarch of the show. With Ruby and Lila both dead and Audrey rarely seen (thanks to Rachel Ames’ retirement), the show needs a wise, grandmotherly figure. Lesley’s return was a breath of fresh air, so let’s see more of her.

    3. Put Anna Devane front and center. She’s barely had anything to do in the last 6 months. Let her solve some crimes. Get her involved in the Patrick-Britt-Sabrina storyline. And get on with the Duke-Anna romance.

    4. Cut the losses with Kiki/Lauren. I already resent the screen time she’s taking away from other characters I care about. Kristen Alderson is not that good an actress to create a completely new character. As someone said upthread, we cut her some slack because we watched her grow up. It’s the Starr character we liked, the Kiki character is a bust.

    5. More Maura West!! She’s another breath of fresh air. This is one character I’m very intrigued by. Pair her with Tony Geary.

    6. Make Roger Howarth the son of Alexandra Quartermaine and Tony Cassadine from the Ice Princess storyline of 1981. That ties him to two important families. Drop the Franco stuff pronto. He was a poor character when James Franco was playing him. No need to revisit that in any form. Howarth and the viewers deserve so much better.

    7. Drop the vampire stuff. Michael Easton has great chemistry with Kelly Monaco no matter who he’s playing. So, fine if he’s Silas Clay, but the vampire storyline was a very poor detour back in February. No need to revisit.

  9. horselover says:

    There are too many characters! TPTB need to do some firing! Better yet, do not bring any more characters on the show until you can write for the ones already on the canvas!!

  10. Patrick Erwin says:

    What James said is absolutely perfect, and I agree with every point.

  11. mikey says:

    i. too, agree with james!

  12. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    Oh dear… I was going to wait for Sunday’s column to comment, due to the fact that I know midweek people have moved on from these columns, but after watching today (Wednesday’s) show, I need to say something.

    OK so we finally got some action–Ron Carlivati often does big Events well, and I liked the stormy build up to the mysterious “party” at the Haunted Star. But the actual show has got me pretty worried–as well as MANY others online, I’ve noticed. Basically it’s back to a subject I think Ron Carlivati (as well as I suppose Frank Valentini who as EP deserves some “credit”) always mishandles, yet always goes back to: rape.

    So we get a show that is basically about three rapes. Franco is back I guess. I have no idea why R Howarth would want to play another rapist, after objecting to Todd becoming a romantic hero in the 90s, but oh well. So that’s kinda ridiculous (and while on soaps they rarely notice someone has a new face when they’re recast, it’s hard to be a discerning soap fan and have nobody comment that that recast looks just like a major character from a month back…) But now in an attempt to redeem him, I suppose, we find out he’s not so bad, because Franco just PRETENDED to rape Sam! So I mean, why should she feel violated? I sense this is the start to trying to redeem him and make a despicable character able to stay on the canvas long-term–judging from the cliffhanger, next we’ll find out he only pretended to have paid for Michael’s prison rape (which was insensitively revealed to AJ, his father, in front of everyone–of course they were probably all desensitized from watching Sam’s “rape tape” anyway.)

    Oh and the major parallel story to this was Lulu realizing that she was basically raped by Stavros as well (and judging from the previews, Dante will blame her in the next episode for going through with it.) Playing these two back to back made for one dreary episode, but especially due to the way it was handled (Sam came to terms with her rape, even though THAT story was made more about Jason’s feelings, a long time back, only to be told her rape was fake?) Is this Ron’s idea of Love in the Afternoon? We’ve seen how badly he has handled rape on One life to Live (the Marty/Todd “romance,” Jessica almost being raped by her father Mitch, Jessica thinking she was a teen being talked into sex by Ford something Ron has angrily tweeted was not rape, but sure seemed like it, etc.) And rape has already been used to explain Connie/Kate’s DID, although it has never actually been discussed–merely thrown out there as a vague reason, complete with the rapist saying he never did it. Pre Ron, Guza did a terrible job with rape stories on GH, so this has been a long time issue, one I had hoped would be dealt with.

    I just don’t know what to say–already Ron C has gotten on the defensive on twitter, which is his prerogative, but I wish the writing would back him up. Soaps in Depth’s twitter complained that people were angry about this but that many found the Cassandra sex trafficking story on All My Children compelling–which seems to miss the point since there rape isn’t used as some twisty, even fun game or plot point but is being treated as devastating.

    Booo.

    Marlena says: I agree with you on all your points, Eric. As you say, boo!

  13. I agree wholeheartedly with James. They should have made RH the son of Alexandria Quartermaine and Victor Cassadine. It would have been perfect. There was no reason to bring back the character of Franco. People loathed and despised him the first time around, and I’m not just talking about the characters on the show. I’m talking about the audience. And to try and redeem in some way by saying that he didn’t really rape Sam, he was just toying with her? GH did this storyline once before with Ric and Carly, where he made her think that they had sex when she was drugged, and that Morgan might have been his son. It was disgusting then and it’s even more appalling now.

    I don’t mind Kristen Alderson, but I wish that they had recast her as Kristina instead. She’s tiny like Lexi Ainsworth and with the dark hair, she would have fit in just fine with the Morgan girls. Since she and Chad Duell have absolutely no chemistry on-screen, this way they could have played brother and sister. Or she could have played Lucy and Scott’s daughter Serena.

    I would have bought Morgan having a hot affair with Ava Jerome and getting involved with gambling through her. I really hope that it turns out that she is a member of the Jerome crime family and that the whole on-line gambling operation is hers.

  14. Jovin says:

    This is the fastest turn around in soap history I think. From the glory that was the 50th anniversary to utter and complete filth in just a few weeks. Cartini seemed to be getting it…less Sonny, less mob, and more vets. That is what we the fans were clamoring for. And they delivered. For several months, Sonny had very little airtime, the mob had no airtime, and the show was awesome. Now it is back to the ultra misogynistic tone that was so favoured during JFP and Guza‘s tenure. The character of Carly is so disgusting…if it were not for Laura Wright she could be the most reprehensible character on soaps. She has ordered Sonny to kill not one but two characters…Brenda and Franco. I thought the show was done with that skewed sense of morality. Then during the Franco reveal, we got to relive FOUR rapes…and this was presented as entertainment. I felt like I was watching Passions. There was Franco, gleefully taunting Sam with a potential rape tape. Does the fact that he let her think he raped her make it any less of a rape? No! There was rape victim Elizabeth standing by to watch. And in the other corner, there was Michael, a male rape victim. In the other room, Lulu was flashing back to being offered up by Helena to be raped by her own son. In what universe is any of this considered entertainment? Why would they dig up one of the most loathed characters in the show‘s history and assign the role to an actor with the star calibre of Roger Howarth?? I‘m guessing there are more reveals to come…but the damage is done. Whatever reveal is to come, it has been shown that this character takes glee in tormenting people with things like murder, rape, and psychological destruction. I also find the relationship between Morgan and Lauren offensive. I dont know. Of any teenagers who walk around half naked in front of their parents and other family practically bragging about having sex.

  15. Jovin says:

    Sorry, I hit post too soon. Im not done ranting. Now onto another completely pointless character…Silas. how many characters can Michael Easton play in the same drab, monotone, non-acting style before it becomes time to cut some losses?? The vampire story was a complete bust on every level…it made Lucy look derangedand played fast and loose with the alternate reality that happened on the late unlamented Port Charles. That was a chapter best left closed, but it was dug up for whatever bizarre reason. And can anyone explain the point of the character of Britt? Kelly Thiebaud is a gorgeous engaging actress. It is beyond my comprehension that soaps continue to cast beautiful women as grasping, desperate psychopaths who will go to such lengths, usually involving a baby, to snare a man who is clearly, patently notinterested. Didnt we JUST sit through this recently with Lisa Niles?? There is enough drama and romance just having Patrick finding love with Sabrina without the intrusion of a third party psycho. And does Tracy have to be such a miserable snarky bitch in EVERY scene? Her vitriolic hatred of AJ makes no sense in the context of the story. A woman pushing 70 who has lost almost her entire family recently would be happy and overjoyed to have one of them back alive, not trying to destroy him at every turn. And even during the ghost segment, Tracy insulted Emily. The recent scenes of Tracy breaking down and admitting she wants love were fantastic!! When characters dont grow and change it becomes sickening and repetitive. It would be so much more entertainingfor the diminished Q‘s to be united battling an outside force. They can still be bickering and squawking amongst each other, but as currently written, they mostly hate each other. And Alexis…for years her throughline was that she hated the mob. Now she is lovey dovey with Sonny‘s newest thug for hire Sean. And Connie and Olivia…sitting around eating pizza, reveling in mob violence when both of their lives have been deeply affected by it was beyond sick. Nothing is making sense on the show and it is unfathomable. Why did the show bring back Duke at all???? To steal a jar of relish? Really?? He has had 6 scenes with Anna in the past three months, and there is no story development whatsoever. Last time I checked, Robert Scorpio was the grand love of Anna‘s life…it was written that way and it played that way. I could go on and on…and I probably will, but i‘m done for now.

    • Dawn says:

      WELL SAID JOVIN! I have nothing to add…someone cc Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini this comment. I can’t believe they grew up with GH and supposedly loved it…They have COMPLETELY missed the boat.

  16. natnic says:

    I wish Roger H. was coming back as someone other than Franco. I was very uneasy about the way the Stavros/Lulu storyline was handled. I actually like Kristen A as Kiki. I like her character as a vain brat. Half cousin romance was accepted on GL. Do you think they would do it at GH or just change the paternity of the character?

  17. Adam says:

    Two suggestions for GH, right off the bat.

    # 1. Fire Ron and Frank and hire adults that don’t rely on cheap tricks and reruns of stories that have failed five times before.

    # 2. Get lighting that doesn’t make everyone look ghoulish. The “look” of the show is ghastly at times.

    Other than that, I don’t know. Perhaps in connection to # 1, you rehire Wendy Riche and Claire Labine?

    • Dawn says:

      They need to hire Sri Rao…someone that loves and respects the history or GH and understands what made it great!

  18. tess says:

    GENERAL HOSPITAL needs a new head writer, post-haste. Here and there, I have been entertained by some of what Ron Carlivati has written for the show, but for the most part, I find GH stupid and predictable.
    I hate how every scene ends with a cliffhanging note when the scene is nothing to get agog about. The stories are contrived and oftentimes, the dialogue sounds like the writers are trying to be witty or dramatic when the scene defies that.

    Ron Carlivati is the man who concocted that Irene Manning gibberish on ONE LIFE TO LIVE and all those other ill conceived stories, such as the tale of the Ford/Salinger brothers, Gigi’s dying, but it was actually Stacy, her sister who had plastic surgery to make herself look like a facsimile of Gigi, etc.

    Also, for the most part, I abhor the way Carlivati pens women. They’re all written as conniving bitches who will do damn near anything to snare a man. In fairness, ONE LIFE’s, Gigi was fantastic. In the beginning, she was presented as a hard-working single mom who didn’t play silly games or prevaricate to win over some guy.

    And GH’s, Sabrina is likable and has heroine potential.

    I want to see GH continue and thrive for another fifty years, but if it is to make it to its fifty first anniversary, ABC has to find new writers. Why don’t they try out those two ladies who were recently fired from the ALL MY CHILDREN reboot? Their work was captivating and I was astonished when they were handed pink slips.

    Sometime back, I recall people recommending that Ron Carlivati take over YOUNG AND RESTLESS. Oh, dear Lord. Just go ahead and put a curse on Y&R.

  19. janet says:

    Jovin hit it on the head.Ron writes rapes, and young well built youug men with great bodies going shirtless. Guess that’s how they keep the budget down no clothing allowance.I am sick of the same old same old. I also want to see my GH characters. Give them something to do. I love the new Lulu, What kind of mother goes on her honeymoon and leaves her daughter that was kidnapped +and has amnesia???Laura has been demonized enough by Guza .Tracy is a bitch. Why exactly does everyone hate and look down on AJ ? he is an alcoholic Sonny is a killing lousey rotten mobster and he gets more respect.AJ got drunk,and Jason jumped in the car with him.He tried to make him get out. The AJ I remember really did everything he could to get his child away from the mobster. he never did push snarly down the stairs but she did drug ,pour booze over push him in a laundry carte pour him in the garage and make him think he started drinking when he had been on the wagon.Sure he shot alan.who was about to turn him over to Jason after he brought Michael home. AJ had a right to know his son. Guza ruined all the characters except the mob, now FrankenRon are pulling a Guza again. I am back to DVRing the show so I can FF lots of it. I want Robert to return, we have to have a conniver lets let Dr Westborne do some coniveing and not go crazy like Lisa Niles. keep Ellie and dump Felix.Maybe just dump RC..

  20. Belgian says:

    IN A NUTSHELL — (This is what GH needs to work on — in my opinion)

    1. Recycling of characters – (this is perhaps the worst thing I’ve ever seen happen on GH. I’m guessing the wriers are the only ones happy with this!
    2. poor writing and storylines – vampires — really??
    3. stories that start and never go anywhere – what ever happened to Robert, Robin?
    4. 75% unlikeable characters — (nothing, no one to root for anymore, and I’m so sick of Scott Baldwin, Luke, Tracy)
    5. showing part of a story and then not showing it again for several weeks.
    6. vampires — (This needs to go immediately)

    I’ve been watching this show since 1980, but over the past few months, I’ve only been watching an average of 2 episodes per week. So sorry to see my favorite soap turning to crap!!

    to me, 2012. ’13 is the worst time of General Hospital ever since I’ve been watching.

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