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.

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