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.

_____________________________

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.

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: 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 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...]

This Week On General Hospital: Watching, Remembering and Perhaps Thinking Too Much … The Bold and the Beautiful’s Game-Changing Pregnancy

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

I certainly ran the full gamut of emotions while watching General Hospital this week.  Tell me you didn’t also have tears in your eyes when Luke and Laura were reunited and Luke flashed back onto an earlier reunion when Laura came back from her Cassadine kidnapping in 1983.  I was surprised that I was so thrilled to see veteran actors return. Kin Shriner’s always obstinate and self-righteous Scotty is older but otherwise hasn’t changed. Didn’t you love when Luke took some jibes at his decades-long rival, referring to Scotty’s “increasingly heightening hairline” and “troll” hair?  I actually screamed out loud when former spouses Laura and Scotty told Luke they were engaged.  As you may recall, in 1979-80 Luke raped Laura, then stole her away from Scotty to create “the greatest love of all,” thus launching the golden age of GH, brought to us by its executive producer, the late great Gloria Monty. [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...]

Sunday Reflections 14: General Hospital’s Non-Stop Storyline Excitement … Bold and Beautiful — Sobbing for the Forthcoming Death of Stephanie

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

General Hospital:  “No one ever dies in this town,” exclaimed Luke and Tracy together as they talked about the wounded and missing Joe Scully Jr. on Friday’s episode. Don’t you just adore when soaps make fun of themselves?  Because back from the dead has certainly been endemic lately on GH. Last week, one of the most thrilling back from the dead story scene reveals I have ever seen  was when  Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan) presented himself to disbelieving wife Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) as being alive after a 23-year absence.

Anna (Finola Hughes) and Duke (Ian Buchanan)
Still electric after all these years

His declarations of continuing love for her (complete with flashbacks) were  the most romantic and intense scenes of the soap year so far.  You know (see Soap Reflections 6) that I am just a marshmallow for the ever handsome, divinely British accented Buchanan. And Hughes should win an Emmy for her portrayal of silent disbelief slowly turning to a burgeoning sense of joy the character felt reuniting with her long lost husband. Didn’t you just love the welling of tears in Anna’s eyes, the moment she realized he really was Duke and the two a rushed into each other’s arms in a reunion embrace?  That’s good writing, electric chemistry (still strong after 23 long years) and great acting!

Robin Mattson as Heather
Crazed evil supreme

Again, as in the last week, the writers of GH proved how expert they are at weaving great storylines together in single episodes. The week also featured Jason finally telling Sam that her baby son was alive and concluded when the two found kidnapper Heather clutching their baby son in her arms on the hospital rooftop. Spine-tingling!  No one plays “crazy pants” better than veteran actress Robin Mattson.  Too bad the previews of Monday’s episode gave away that Heather does jump off the roof (sans baby, I’m guessing).  Why should a show usually so careful about disclosing its storyline secrets permit such a big boo-boo?   Marlena just loves suspense that is unspoiled.

So GH has really been great hot soap opera these last two months, hasn’t it?   From the September day the show changed time slots, headwriter Ron Carlivati has been expertly writing [Read more...]

General Hospital: No Spoiler … What a Great Surprise!

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

When I think about Old Man Soap Opera, I think of someone teetering on a cane off to the inevitable.  So who thought today he’d pull one of his oldest tricks out of his pocket: the element of surprise!

Did you see today’s General Hospital?  We all knew (from a cliffhanger on Friday’s episode and via Frank Valentini’s tweet) that something big was being revealed today. But (and listen up, other producers) he did not spoil it.

Ian Buchanan
As Duke Lavery (gasp!) in the sanitarium

So when it was revealed almost at the end of the episode that it was Duke Lavery who was lurking at the sanitarium … wowee!  I actually screamed!  And clapped! Finally, a soap keeping a plot twist secret! Before the advent of spoilers, which reared their ugly heads in the late 70s, wanting to know what is going to happen next is why soap viewers tuned in to soaps, and why they kept tuning in.  And spoilers have been one of the main culprits that have ruined the crucial soap element of suspense. And in so doing, almost killed off daytime drama as a medium, too.

So congratulations to Mr. Valentini for somehow sealing the leaks that let the secrets filter up to the magazines and the Internet.   And Mr. Carlivati and company did a masterful job on the writing of the episode, during which the citizens of Port Charles also found out [Read more...]

The Daytime Emmys: Happy At Last

newFor another view of the Daytime Emmys, read the post following this one by Marlena’s longtime friend and colleague Ed Martin.  A veteran TV industry journalist and analyst, Ed is a columnist for JackMyers.com.

By Marlena De Lacroix

From out of a dying soap industry, from out of a cable network I never watch, last night arrived the most unexpected shock of my decades-long soap watching/journalism life: a Daytime Emmys that was pretty good.  Who know that after most of us gave up the fight and moved on to other lives that daytime would finally get what we (the actors, the press, and hopefully the fans) had fought for forever: a Daytime Emmys that wasn’t condescending to daytime soaps!

Hooray!  No soaps-are-stupid jokes!  It’s taken the always awkward Daytime Emmys since 1974 — the year they were first broadcast by themselves – not to make fun of what they’re celebrating.  Even though this year’s ceremony was on 

Best of all, without the traditional sneering and disrespect for soaps, many moments of actual warmth emerged.  It’s called professional showmanship with heart, and the producers of the Emmys this year have it! Yes, yes — emotion — that’s what daytime soaps are all about.  And used to be about. 

such a small scale, it grew large because it finally treated soaps with dignity. They are not, as most people in the world think, and we soap fans know in our hearts – a punch line!

Unlike in past years, the host wasn’t sleazy or smarmy (like Bob Barker) or totally miscast (as Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott unintentionally were [Read more...]