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.

General Hospital: All Hail the Nurses Ball — and ABC Daytime!

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

Aren‘t we just having the greatest time watching General Hospital ’s Nurses Ball, the first part of which aired Friday?   I’d like to congratulate all the performers, writers and the crew who participated, especially those two great showmen, executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati, for putting on such a great production. I’d also like to thank those two great women who created the Ball back in 1994: former executive producer Wendy Riche and former headwriter Claire Labine.

And haven’t the musical numbers in this year’s revived Nurses Ball been wondrous so far?  I especially loved Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) and a glamorized Ellie (Emily Wilson) who did the comic and so imaginative “She Blinded Me with Science.” The introduction to the ball, starring all the nurses spearheaded by Epiphany (Sonja Eddy) was great, and so was the pas de deux by Anton and Sam, performed straight from Dancing With the Stars to you by Kelly Monaco and Maxim Chmerkovskiy.  I found myself sobbing (again) when Frisco sang “All I Need” to Felicia at the cliffhanger of Friday’s episode.  I was never their greatest Frisco and Felicia fan back in the day, but it brings back the old days of GH to us, special days we shall never forget in so many ways.

So we must all hail all General Hospital’s 50th anniversary celebration, which has been on-going seemingly everywhere this past week.  You have to give big kudos to ABC Daytime for publicizing the hell out of the event.  There was Tony Geary’s sentimental appearance on The View, during which they showed the clip of Luke singing “My Way.”)   There was a superbly produced 50th anniversary special edition of the Katie Couric daytime talk show, showcasing many of the actors (Tony, Genie Francis, Kin Shriner, et al.) who made the trip to Manhattan to tape the show. Included were Jack Wagner singing and doing a hilarious kissing scene with Katie.  Last night, GH even offered a very nicely put together hour long special edition of 20/20 called “The Real Soap Dish.”  There were segments on love, sex and the great supercouples of Port Charles.  I even saw a New York City local news report on the anniversary in a screen in the back seat of a cab I was taking to a Broadway show on Friday!

All in all, I can’t remember such a hoopla being made over any show in all my many decades of watching and writing about soap operas.  Do you think ABC finally, finally, sees the errors of their ways in destroying their other two great soaps, the cancelled All My Children and One Life to Live?   By devoting such love and attention to General Hospital, is ABC saying they are really going to stick with this show and make it live another 50 years?    I’m certainly hoping so.

 Altogether, GH’s anniversary celebrations and the Nurses Ball certainly made it a momentous and quite sentimental week to be a daytime fan.    

General Hospital at 50: They’ve Only Just Begun …

Marlena says:  It’s a special time at General Hospital.  The 50th anniversary is coming up April 1 and it’s been just about a year since headwriter Ron Carlivati and executive producer executive producer Frank Valentini took over a dying show and made it must-watch TV.  Marlena’s dear friend and veteran journalist Ed Martin, who first started watching GH in the glory days of the early 80s, expresses the feelings of many avid fans at the current state of the show in this column, reprinted from his regular gig at TV Worth Watching. Ed’s been a guest columnist here many times, and I’m so happy to share his latest GH thoughts with you.

By Ed Martin

April will mark the 50th anniversary of ABC’s General Hospital. I’ll be marking my 35th anniversary as a steady GH viewer just a couple of months after that. One year ago, I was almost certain that neither anniversary would come to pass, what with the show in a death spiral after more than ten years of dreadful mob-based stories that had gutted virtually everything [Read more...]

Is General Hospital’s Vampire Story Too Much? Do The Bold and the Beautiful’s Taylor and Eric Deserve a Little Romance? Is Days of Our Lives Tops?

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

General Hospital:  So what do you think of GH’s vampire story that features characters from that soap canceled a decade ago, Port Charles?  Because it’s not over yet, I’m not going to conclusively  judge the storyline that already involves one murder (Allison Barrington’s)  and has “mad”  Lucy as seeing John McBain and Sam McCall Morgan really being vampires Caleb and Livvie, the characters Michael Easton and Kelly Monaco  played on Port Charles. I surmise the story is a means to an as yet unspecified end, providing suspenseful sweeps month mystery and excitement and introduction of a new character, Rafe (played by Jimmy Deshler), the teenage son of murdered Allison. He seems to be a future love interest for Molly. [Read more...]

General Hospital Update: Understanding Itself, Misunderstanding Viewers

By Ed Martin

It’s been two months since executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati took control of ABC’s General Hospital – long enough by any measure for a creative team to make its mark on a soap opera and make clear what they intend to do with it.

Now, I don’t want to start right in with the complaints, because entirely too many people who have read my previous columns about GH think that I’ve been too hard on the show, or that I want to see it die. So let me make clear that nobody wants GH to survive and thrive more than I do. I’ve been a loyal viewer since 1978, and I have supported this show in the television and advertising businesses for more than half

General Hospital today doesn’t play like a show that is fighting for its life. Just because ABC has cancelled The Revolution and extended GH’s stay of execution doesn’t mean that anyone should assume the show is out of danger.

of that time. We can all agree that GH in particular and the soap genre overall has been crippled by the involvement over the last ten-plus years of executives, producers and writers who either didn’t care or simply didn’t care to care. One thing is certain: They rarely listened to fans. If they did, a number of recently cancelled soap operas might still be with us and as vital as they once were, and GH wouldn’t have been allowed to deteriorate in the way it did since before the turn of the millennium. (This begs the question: Why are sports fans and sci-fi fans marketed to and catered to in ways that swell their ranks and make billions for relevant franchises, while soap fans, an equally enthusiastic and devoted group, are all-too-often spit upon? I resent it. Do you? Discuss.)

Anyway, let’s begin with some compliments. Valentini and Carlivati have demonstrated a knowledge of and laudable respect for the history of GH (something that many previous producing and writing regimes largely ignored). Port Charles feels like a community again, just as Llanview did on their previous gig, One Life to Live. The return of Finola Hughesfinola hughes as Anna Devane has been a godsend. (I would like to see Hughes have more scenes with Jane Elliott and Nancy Lee Grahn, two of the best actresses in the history of daytime drama, yet both grievously underutilized on this show.) Similarly, the return of Robin Mattson as moon-bat Heather Webber, a character who was at center stage when I first started watching GH, has been big fun. (Heather at that time was portrayed by Cher’s sister, Georgianne LaPierre!)

Meantime, two veteran cast members who never made much of an impression are turning in outstanding performances under the new regime: Jason Thompson as grief-stricken Dr. Patrick Drake, who hasn’t had much to do since saying goodbye to the wife he thinks is dead, and Brandon Barash as mobster Johnny Zacchara, also in an emotional tailspin after learning that his late sister was actually his mother. Suddenly, Johnny is multi-dimensional, oddly sympathetic, dangerously sexy and infinitely more interesting than any of the other criminals on the GH canvas.

Michael Easton as Lt. John McBain, one of the many characters from One Life to Live that have been brought onto the GH canvas, has left all of the other male actors on GH in the dust (with the exceptions of Thompson and Barash.) His chemistry with Finola Hughes, Jane Elliott and especially Kelly Monaco has been [Read more...]

General Hospital Update: Is it Still on Life Support?

By Ed Martin 

I’m not sure what to make of the big surprise on “General Hospital” this week – but then again, I haven’t known what to make of GH in a very long time (years, actually). Robin Scorpio is alive – and looking very tanned and rested, I might add, even if she is being held hostage in something resembling a hospital room.

Seeing Robin in that bed at the end of Monday’s episode was the first time GH has really “wowed” me since that unforgettable moment in May 1980 when Edward Quartermaine sprang back to life after faking a heart attack and shocked his

Even though I haven’t cared for many of executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati’s storytelling choices, it has been a sweet treat to see so many fondly remembered characters from General Hospital’s past return to its canvas.

daughter Tracy (and millions of viewers, as well) after she had refused to give him his medication because he wouldn’t change his will. Ah, sweet memories …

The Robin reveal was all the more impressive because it hadn’t been leaked. I didn’t think it was possible to keep anything from [Read more...]

Ten Happy Halloween Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix

1.  Isn’t it most curious that two of the most intelligent women characters in daytime — Dr. Marty Saybrooke on One Life to Live and fashion mogul Jackie M on The Bold and the Beautiful – have gone from brunette to blonde in the last few months?  Fashion, or just another attempt by the networks/shows to “dumb down” smart female characters?  Regardless, Susan Haskell and Lesley Ann-Downe continue to look gorgeous and act with integrity!

2.  The great, the one and only Eric Braeden; my revered and beloved Robin Strasser — am I the only one l who feels used and tired out by … Continued below

Halloween Marlena

MARLENA AND NIGEL’S HALLOWEEN POOCH PARADE

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Continued from above … being drawn into their public contract negotiations?  Sure, they don’t deserve pay cuts!  But can’t they keep the drama and tragedy private?  The press gets [Read more...]

All My Children’s Over-hyped Return of Rebecca Budig

By Marlena De LacroixRebecca Budig

A member of our family has been ill, so it’s been hard enough to post.  And so at the end of  tough days,  I turn to where I have always turned since I was a teen for a bit of relief, comfort and a sense of belonging:  to daytime soaps.  Right now — late Saturday afternoon – what’s going on is SoapNet’s  ”Welcome Back Weekend,”  a festival of old episodes of All My Children and a repeating promo special welcoming back the characters of Jesse, Angie and Greenlee, as played again by veterans Darnell Williams, Debbi Morgan and Rebecca Budig.

[Read more...]