Why General Hospital Is So Unsatisfying to Watch Right Now

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

We had hope, didn’t we, in those heady days when General Hospital, the leading survivor among network daytime soaps, seemed to be in the ascendancy again. Alas, the good times have faded. These days, watching GH is a very frustrating experience.   Many of the storylines are unsatisfying. The characters don’t make much sense and the stories lack motivation and have holes in them. 

Roger Howarth’s Franco, dancing as fast as he can

The show still seems to still be struggling to come to terms with its three character switches, if that is fully possible.  As Franco, Roger Howarth (formerly Todd) is dancing as fast as he can, but still can’t seem to escape the character’s unseemly and criminal past, no matter how much the show “factually” absolves him of his sins — responsibility for Michael’s rape, Sam’s non-rape, etc.  Kristen Alderson (formerly Starr) is still terrible as Kiki, her eyes bulging and mouth always agape as she engages in her forbidden romance with biological cousin Michael.  As Silas, Michael Easton seems too cold as a cancer doctor, and does not even exhibit his trademark sex chemistry (from when he played John) with Kelly Monaco, who still plays Sam.

At least they have tried to cross Silas into a new story.  He seems to have a romantic past with Ava, as played by Maura West, the show’s revelation as an actress. West carries on as well as can be expected, considering that her fairly new character is so quickly saddled with the shooting of Olivia.  How can she get away with it and still be on the canvas?

Forever pregnant? Dr. Britt (Kelly Thiebaud) and Maxie (Kristen Storms)

The show has crossed Nicholas into a story with Britt, who is still – in what may be soap opera’s longest gestation period — pregnant with Patrick’s baby.   For some reason not well explained or even likely, Britt and Nicholas seem interested in each other.   Meanwhile, Patrick (supposedly the father of Britt’s baby) and Sabrina continue their romance, which lacks any kind of authentic sexual spark and is thus hard to believe.  

And speaking of endless pregnancies, what about Maxie, who is carrying her own baby, secretly fathered by Spinelli. She is the surrogate mother to what she is passing off as Lulu and Dante’s daughter, although many fans think Britt’s baby is really their transplanted embryo.  Got that?  We’re really in trouble when whole scenarios dreamed up by fans as well as the writers are equally unappealing.

Even worse, there are signs that GH may be retreating into the world of Bob Guza, with all its bad taste and silly violence! How else to explain Don Sonny ordering a compliant Shawn to beat Franco to a bloody pulp? It was uncalled for and gross.  And can’t the “creative” team do better than the creepy gay lab tech Brad trying to blackmail the straight Michael into sleeping with him to silence his knowledge that Kiki and Michael are romantically involved?

Listen up, GH! We were so happy when you seemed to leave all that shallow sleaze in the rear view mirror. Turn back at your peril.

A Negative Vote on This Year’s Daytime Emmys

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

Last year I praised HLN’s first production of the Daytime Emmys because it was straightforward and lean.  This year’s show was exactly the opposite — overlong (almost three hours) and full of things that just shouldn’t have been included.  Boring!

Doug Davidson and his well-deserved and long overdue Best Actor award (Photo by Richard ShotwellInvision/AP)

How about that couch?  I’m talking about the one on which winners were interviewed by such “journalists” as Giada Di Laurantiis and Sheryl Underwood.  At least some of the winners — Best Actor Doug Davidson and Best Supporting Actress Julie Marie Berman, for instance — handled themselves well and with grace in the awkward situation.  There was just too much stuff stuffed into the show — like two Lifetime Achievement awards (Monty Hall and Bob Stewart) and presentation of three generic Best Song performances by co-host Robin Meade (who is at least a pretty woman with a nice voice).  Nancy Lee Grahn’s brief comedy bits filmed outdoors were not very good..

The whole problem with the show is that in content it aimed to be a major network presentation, but missed because of poor and cheap production.  It makes us remember and appreciate what a good job Dick Clark Productions did with the show over the years.  The hosts — Sam Champion, A.J. Hammer and Meade — were just meh, and scattershot appearances by them did nothing to keep the whole production feeling cohesive.  All in all, the 40th annual Daytime Emmys was a production not befitting of its own lofty aims or of the hard work done on daytime television by so many creative people over the year.

The winners in most of the acting categories, on the other hand, were well chosen.  Finally, Davidson deservedly won his Best Actor statuette after 35 years in the show in a very emotional storyline on The Young and the Restless (Paul shot his would-be murderer son Ricky.)   The Bold and the Beautiful’s Heather Tom always excels, particularly in her storyline in which Katie suffered a near-psychotic breakdown after the birth of her son.  And General Hospital’s Julie Marie Berman’s win as Best Supporting Actress was a good parting gift from the show.

Speaking of GH, wasn’t the show shortchanged in a year when the big awards (Best Show, Best Writing, Best Direction) went to B&B. Not that B&B had a bad year (it was very good, especially with the scenes leading up to Stephanie’s death), but GH literally had its finest years in decades, an everyday must-see show which corrected the mistakes made by the horribly crime-centric longtime headwriter Bob Guza.  Except for an underserved award for Best Young Actress to Kristen Alderson (while she was still playing Starr Manning), GH deserved many more awards and  rewards this year.

On Days of Our Lives, Chandler Massey was rewarded for a very nice job with Best Younger Actor. Then the show went on to score the evening’s the real upset – Days won as Best Soap.  As bitterly noted by executive producer Ken Corday in his acceptance speech, this was the first time in 38 years the show had won the ultimate award.

So, Thinking Fans, did Days deserve it?

General Hospital: The Misogyny-Ending Magic of Sabrina; A 50th Anniversary Appeal to GH Fans in the Poconos

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

Isn’t it amazing that we all seem to love General Hospitaldespite the fact that it’s scored three strikes within that many weeks?  The end of the vampire story was a real disaster, violent and oh so ridiculous.  Speaking of ridiculous, isn’t Sonny romancing — and sleeping with — both alters, Connie and Kate, that, and kind of disgusting as well?  Kind of beating up the mentally ill with a club, no?

Teresa Castillo as Sabrina Santiago
Marlena adores her combination of strength and vulnerability.

But worst of all is the entirely unexpected simplistic writing of the renewed Luke/Laura/Scotty triangle. Who ever would have thought they’d so waste the talents of Geary/Francis/Shriner? The only thing enjoyable about that for which we waited decades is Tracy’s jealous (and quite humorous) reaction to it all.  Jane Elliot has the only character here that’s being given the least bit of sophisticated dialogue and she’s been delivering it with aplomb, so deliciously Tracy style.

But now I’m going to say something I know so many viewers don’t agree with.  I love Sabrina, and have from the very start. Teresa Castillo gives her an innocence and youthful idealism that [Read more...]

General Hospital’s Monstrous Lies, All My Children’s Truthful Memories

By Marlena De Lacroix

Yesterday, I was trying to write my long promised column against the most perversely inhuman, possibly most disturbing soap storyline of all time, but the words just would not come out.  I’m talking about the General Hospital storyline written by Bob Guza that began with 12-year-old Michael getting shot in the head and climaxed with his parents Sonny and Carly screwing in the back seat of a limo after delivering their comatose son  toAMC trio a long-term care facility. That I felt paralyzed and couldn’t write was very odd because I’d been angrily “writing” the words of the column every day in my head since that day six weeks ago when a shot meant for Sonny rang out in the coffee warehouse and mistakenly hit Michael.

Still searching for my muse, I decided to switch gears and tune in to All My Children.  And there was Larry Lau as Greg Nelson, returning after nearly 25 years for the wedding of Angie and Jesse. Great friends during their days as high school students,   Greg and Angie and Jesse reminisced about the very, very sweet love story of Greg and his now long-dead wife, Jenny, who [Read more...]

More Emmy Noms 2008: How ‘bout a Little Self-Respect?

By Patrick Erwin

Basketball may have its March Madness, but the soap world has its own spring madness ritual — the Daytime Emmy nominations. The discussions about this year’s nominations have come fast and furious since they were announced yesterday. Marlena gave her take on the whole process, and I had a few thoughts of my own I thought I’d like to share.

Most Confusing Nomination: The three younger actress nominations for The Young and the Restless. Look, I know everyone has their own favorites, and their own likes and dislikes. And as far as these performers go (Vail Bloom, Emily O’Brien, Tammin Sursok), I have nothing against any of them per se. But even the most ardent Y&R fan has to admit all three of these performers played characters who were unpopular with viewers, and have been in very unpopular storylines. For all three to be rewarded with a nomination defies logic.

The “Guiding Light Survival Raft” Nominations: All of the acting nominations for Days of our Lives. Like GL, Days has been the subject of cancellation rumors [Read more...]

General Hospital’s Stephen Macht: Can Character Actors Save Soaps?

Stephen Macht

By Marlena De Lacroix

Every week for months, there have been rumors that Stephen Macht’s tough mob lawyer character, Trevor Lansing, is about to be whacked on General Hospital.   So, while there’s still time, I’d like to say that I’m really enjoying Macht’s performances in the role this season.  Yes, Macht, the 60ish actor with the pock markets, the slitty, beady brown eyes, and the formidable stack of gray-white hair.  I bet he’s never heard the word “hottie” in his life.

But, oh, can this actor talk and talk and talk and talk!  Or, more  precisely, confront, confront, confront.  It’s been Trevor’s job to protect the Zacchara family business, (led by the seldom seen loony bin [Read more...]

10 Sweet and Soapy Valentine’s Day Questions

By Marlena De LacroixSarah Brown

1.  Is it my imagination or did bravura actress Sarah Brown return to General Hospital (as Claudia Zacchara) with a little something extra under the signature slutty red wrap dress?  And isn’t fierce mob princess Claudia very similar to Maerose Prizzi (Oscar winner Anjelica Huston) the fierce mob princess who wants to take control of her mob family in the 1985 hit movie Prizzi’s Honor?  Is there a mob movie that Bob Guza has  failed to rip off?

2.  Indeed, is there any Hollywood movie that Guza hasn’t ripped off? Last night I watched 1983′s War Games, about a nerdy but lovable teenage computer hacker [Read more...]

General Hospital: Kids with Guns for Sweeps

By Marlena De LacroixDylan Cash

I’ve never lost sleep over a soap opera before.  But when I saw Michael buying a gun on General Hospital, the thought of what most likely will come next so disgusted me I couldn’t calm down. Now that Michael — at approximately age 12 — is packing heat, either he or his little brother  Morgan is going to get shot, or one of them will shoot an adult. Someone could even die.

General Hospital is lower than dirt.  I want to go on record saying that, even though we don’t know yet exactly who will shoot whom,  and what the atrocity masquerading as a storyline is going to be.

This is February, sweeps month, when soaps will do anything to get ratings. So Jill, Brian, Mr. “On Strike” Guza, don’t insult me by trying to pass this story off as a [Read more...]

On Soaps, Multiple Suspect Murder Mysteries are So-o-o Done!

 By Marlena De LacroixStephanie shot

I have grown so tired of the soap opera convention known as the multiple-suspect murder mystery storyline.  Of late, they’ve become meaningless, predictable or, even worse, totally incomprehensible.

The multiple-suspect murder plot was only done to perfection on the old full-time soap mystery show Edge of Night.  But the plot only became really popular on other soaps around the time [Read more...]

General Hospital Night Shift: Good Night and Good Riddance

By Marlena De Lacroix 

General Hospital: Night Shift broadcast its final episode last week and I fear because its first episode was so highly rated the entire show will go down in soap history as a hit instead of the incoherently written and produced mess that it was. Same sets, same writers as daytime GH. ABC Daytime should have learned its lesson: You just can’t get two soaps for the price of one. GH:NS head writer Bob Guza should be spanked for publicly complaining how “exhausting” writing the two shows was for his overworked staff. It was more exhausting for us viewers who had watch and decipher what we were seeing!

NS‘s only redeeming aspect and its real legacy to daytime is its bravura casting. Casting directors Mark Teschner and Gwen Hillier introduced a group of new actors who are universally talented and interesting. No brainless hunk or hunkette models typically hired en masse on most soaps (Days of Our Lives!). For NS, Teschner and Hillier made very well thought-out choices: the politically chic, not to mention gorgeous Nanizin Boniadi; the unusual looking and very goofy Dominic Rains (Leo); Graham Shiels (sexy villain Cody), and an appealingly real Angel M. Wainwright (Regina), a real gem. As you know, NS cast member Amanda Baker (psycho Jolene) has already been franchised out to All My Children as the new Babe.

So now we close the book on NS (until a possible next year). Will the formula for Brian Frons’ own Frankenstein monster of a soap (partially, and cheaply, made from GH‘s leftover parts) be copied by other networks? And will ABC choose to keep spinning GH off? First they gave us the now failed Port Charles, then GH:NS. Next year, I bet it will be Jason and Spinelli to capitalize on the characters’ Lucy and Ethel relationship.

Young and The Restless: Has CBS made a big, big mistake? Like you, I was shocked to see Y&R advertise a General Hospital-esque stunt called “Out of the Ashes,” to be aired this coming week. Clear Springs will literally blow up, with almost the entire cast involved. Y&R has never done a mega stunt, let alone anything promoted with a title. It promises to be the polar opposite of the slow, subtle, classy soap opera the late Bill Bell presided over for thirty years. I remember the days 25 years ago when he frowned on any kind of advance publicity for his show, a belief he acquired from his mentor, Irna Phillips.

Can current executive producer/writer Lynn Marie Latham do any more to call the public’s attention to the fact that her new Y&R is no longer the “traditional” Y&R viewers loved for decades? This action/disaster sequence better be good, because she’ll be drowning in even more hate mail from angry longtime fans who absolutely hate the ways (faster pace, plots full of soap cliches) in which she has changed the show. (Some of that mail has even come my way.) Will “Out of the Ashes” alienate even more old fans than the new fans it wants to attract? We’ll have to see, boom, boom, next week.

Creme De Lacroix: This week I toast Justin Deas and Kin Shriner (respectively Buzz Cooper on Guiding Light and Scott Baldwin on General Hospital). Their faces are both wonderful real world aged wrecks. No producer would ever let a female actor go on-screen looking as baggy-eyed and tired as Deas and Shriner (both in their 50s). Yet, I still delight in their performances! These two expert soap acting veterans of several decades standing are full of character, now as ever. Buzz is mostly seen playing support to his kids Frank and Harley and his troubled grandkids, and Scotty in support of new-found son Logan. Personally I’d love to have the wisdom of Buzz to draw upon, and Scotty’s vinegary reasoning still makes me laugh after all these years. They may look as old as Yoda, but they are home and they are family.

Originally published on www.jackmyers.com.