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 via TV that Jerry Jacks had poisoned the water supply. Loved the initial fake out, when Anna found out that the anonymous person whom we all thought to be whoever they were revealing lying in the bed next to her was no one of any consequence.  Whee!

Oh!   I knew I had the right instinct to watch GH this past couple of months (almost) spoiler free.   Being shocked is the best soap opera, no?  Was today’s grand episode of GH a one shot wonder?  Or could the renewed use of absolute surprise really save Old Man Soap Opera?

Note: In the spirit of this remarkable achievement, this post isn’t going up until 7 p.m. EDT, all the better to avoid spoiling the no spoiler for Marlena’s West Coast readers. Relish the moment, thinking fans!


  1. Marlena, I love that you are posting your columns more than ever lately! Your column in Soap Opera Weekly was always a must-read and it is such a treat to continue reading your column here online.

    How great was it to see Duke Lavery pop up unannounced at the end of Monday’s episode? It’s nice to be surprised every now and then on the soaps! Ron Carlivati is making GH into must-see television again. Too bad he can’t write for all four of the remaining soaps!

    Marlena says: Thanks so much for your remarks on all my columns, old and new. Marlena basks in your appreciation!

  2. Marlena, I want to thank you for praising Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati. There are a lot of haters out there that seem to think they have completely ruined “General Hospital” by bringing over an over whelming two characters (oh my!) from “One Life to Live” but you call it as you see it: they are doing a fantastic job.

    I haven’t loved this show in about eight years but am completely into it right now thanks to the wonderful job the ex-“One Life to Live” boys are doing!

    Marlena says: Everyone knows I have issues with the duo and their history. But they’ve done a very good job with GH; and are to be praised big time for being very smart and bringing back the old soap hooks of surprise and suspense with this Duke reveal. They are showmen.

  3. horselover says:

    Oh, I loved the Duke surprise. I can’t wait to see Duke & Anna together again! A true supercouple!! This long time GH fan is very happy. Thanks Ron and Frank!

  4. I didn’t watch GH back in the Duke & Anna days. I only know Ian from his roles on AMC and DOOL, both of which I didn’t like.

    I am wondering why so many people were shocked at Duke’s return. (Not everyone is spoiler-free.) I had read several places that it was a distinct possibility he was returning. I hope Duke doesn’t end up being as creepy as those other characters he played. I’m really not liking the whole Jerry Jacks storyline and the fact that Duke seems to be the ring leader isn’t giving me much hope for him.

    In general though…and I was very anti-CarTini in the beginning…I’m really enjoying GH these days. I’m even loving Todd/Roger again. So keep up the good work guys!

    Marlena says: Sure, on Days and AMC, Buchanan playing a villain came across as a tad hammy, but as I’ve written I love that about him. But he does play better as a hero, and I think that’s ultimately what Duke will turn out to be once again on GH, after all this ringleader stuff is over. Buchanan was very appealing as Duke, especially to us sophisticated ladies, and he and Finola Hughes were a genuine dream team — two very good actors, with wonderful, almost matching accents, no less. Give Buchanan a chance on GH, I think you’ll enjoy him, particularly now that you like the show much more.

  5. First time I looked at a soap-opera publication was in 1984 with “Soap Opera Digest.” It was five years later that along came “Soap Opera Weekly.” It was between this period that marked the last time I was caught by surprise with such an unanticipated move.

    In 1988, I had no idea Darnell Williams was leaving his Emmy-winning role as Jesse Hubbard on “All My Children.” I didn’t see it reported in “Digest”; other magazines at the time were monthly or bi-monthly or seasonal. So, while Jesse and Angie were enjoying a lovely dinner, a gunman’s bullet struck Jesse … and, because I figured Williams wasn’t going anywhere, that it was transforming into a “Goodbye, Jesse!” as Angie realized her husband suffered too much damage to be able to survive. (Those scenes won Debbi Morgan her well-earned 1989 Emmy.) Of course it would be silly to pretend “AMC” didn’t have some nerve for having revived Dead Jesse 20 years later! (Too bad “Guiding Light” didn’t borrow from that note in time for its swan song in 2009. Yes, I’m referrign to the-completely-relatabale-and-never-should’ve-been-terminated Maureen Bauer!)

    By the way: Welcome back, Duke Lavery!

    Marlena says: Yes, Jesse was killed off the year before SOW began publication. Morgan sure was spectacular, and always is.. And I must have been the only one who didn’t care when Maureen Bauer was killed. I never found her a very warm character, as so many others did. But she had backbone!

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