Sunday, July 8, 2012

GENERAL HOSPITAL: The great recast debate

If you’ve been a soap fan as long as I have – 1980 respectively, not to date myself – then you inevitably get used to recasts.

Like pretty much everything else in this world – they’re a mixed bag.

Some work.

Laura Wright (Carly, General Hospital), Bree Williamson (Jessica, One Life to Live), Billy Warlock (A.J., General Hospital) and Kassie DePaiva (Blair, One Life to Live) would be examples of this.

I’m not saying they’re better than the originals – but they succeed in the roles to a degree that makes you accept them as the characters.

The are other recasts that are so different from the originals that they essentially created new characters. This is rare, but it happens.

Examples of this would include Jerry verDorn (Clint, One Life to Live), Greg Vaughn (Lucky, General Hospital), Trevor St. John (Todd, One Life to Live) and Alicia Minshew (Kendall, All My Children).

Some of the recasts were necessary.

VerDorn, for example, took over the role after the original actor Clint Ritchie died. Clint underwent a massive personality change under verDorn – yet I still liked the character (even though I loved Ritchie).

John Ingle on General Hospital would be another example of this. I loved David Lewis – but John Ingle was a wonderful Edward recast – even though the character was never truly the same under Ingle.

Vaughn’s Lucky never got the writing Jonathan Jackson’s Lucky did – but I thought Vaughn worked with what he was given.

And, ultimately, we found out St. John’s character was so different from the original Todd because he was really a different character – but that will take forever to explain.

All of the above mentioned recasts I can take.

The final category of recasts is the ones that just plain fall flat.

I’m dealing with three of those right now on ‘General Hospital.’

Which three am I talking about?

Kelly Sullivan as Kate, Jen Lilley as Maxie and Lindsey Morgan as Kristina.

I just want to start by saying I have nothing personal against these actresses. I just don’t happen to think they fit the parts they’re been cast to play.

First up is Sullivan.

The character of Kate is a hard one to stomach no matter who is playing her. At least original Kate (Megan Ward) had a little chutzpah – for lack of a better word.

Sullivan has been saddled with one of the most ridiculous stories in recent soap history. She can’t do anything about that. It’s not her fault. Multiple personality storylines are always ridiculous.

Sullivan, however, has other strikes against her.

First of all, the actress is 34 years old and we’re supposed to believe she was in high school with Maurice Benard’s Sonny. For his part, Benard is almost 50. The difference in their looks is hilarious.

Now we’re supposed to believe that Kate has a grown 20-something son running around named Trey. Sure, she was raped as a teenager, but this is just ridiculous.

I could have maybe warmed to Sullivan if they had cast her as a different character and not forced this ridiculous age issue. As it is, I fast forward through Sullivan 75 percent of the time.

Next up is Jen Lilley – also a wonderful girl in a real life.

Personally, I didn’t like all the Lilley hate when she first took over the role of Maxie from the talented Kirsten Storms.

The truth is, Storms was having health issues. It’s been reported she had endometriosis. She’s been sidelined a long time if that’s the only thing that’s wrong with her.

I think something else is going on – and that’s none of my business. It looks like Storms is ready to return to work, though, and it’s time to let her.

Lilley did an admirable job. She just wasn’t Maxie, though.

A lot of the time, it felt like I was watching an actress pretend to be Storms pretending to be Maxie.

Under Lilley, Maxie just stopped being likeable for me. The character was always self-centered and self-serving. I still managed to like her, though. That’s not the case with Lilley’s Maxie. I fast forward through her a solid 85 percent of the time.

That brings us to Morgan.

She is a lovely girl. The problem is, a lot of fans, myself included, haven’t gotten over how the previous Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) was fired. For those that don’t know – it was for lack of sex appeal.

Morgan certainly doesn’t have that problem.

However, Ainsworth was still much more endearing as Kristina.

Kristina is a character that has a lot of issues. Ainsworth managed to portray those issues and still make Kristina likeable.

Morgan’s Kristina is a holy terror – and not a fun one like Heather.

Also, and I know this shouldn’t matter, but Morgan doesn’t look like Alexis, Sam and Molly anymore. I don’t know why, but I believed the family dynamic so much more when all the Davis girls looked alike.

Kristina? Yeah, I fast forward through her 100 percent of the time.

Now, I don’t like to advocate for people to lose their jobs, but I’m ready for Storms to come home. If Ainsworth can’t be wooed back, send Kristina back to Yale. As for Kate? She’s become the character that ate GH anyway. Maybe it’s time she was back burnered?

What do you think? How is GH’s current crop of recasts doing?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved Alicia Minshew's Kendall and it was important she did what she did in interpreting the role because SMG's Kendall would have had to undergone some sort of major character transformation in order to have metamorphosed into one of the anchoring leads of the show. She had mommy issues when she came on but she was funny and feisty and loyal and the transformation of her from an outsider into a core Kane woman was entirely believable.

On the other hand, it's so funny about Jen Lilley but she did the exact opposite for me as for you when she came on the show. It was through Jen's portrayal that I started to believe in Maxie's vulnerability and also began to hope that maybe, just maybe, Maxie might be capable of growing up some day ala Minshew's Kendall. The thing is that I never liked KS's Maxie-she was brittle and shallow and every self-involved and destructive thing she did was right out there in the open for me to see and I didn't think her personal pain and tragedy was enough to exculpate her behavior. I just wanted her to stop airily proclaiming that was just how she was so take it or leave it and start absorbing some of life's lessons and begin to mature from them. All the things that JL's Maxie does are NO DIFFERENT than what KS's Maxie did but then again I never wore rose colored glasses about Maxie's behavior or motivation in the first place. Unfortunately, if and when KS returns, I'll be the one going back to FFing her scenes and will greatly miss Jen.

Also, on GH, one of the major characters who has been repeatedly recast is Carly but I must say that Laura Wright is my favorite Carly. I never watched or cared about the character until she came along and it doesn't mean that I unilaterally like Carly, I don't but that's okay, I always love watching LW.

July 8, 2012 at 10:37 AM 
Blogger ghospitalfan said...

I agree with everything you said about Jen Lilley and Lindsay Morgan. GH needs Kirsten back (and it looks like she is) as well as Lexi. I do love Laura Wright.

July 8, 2012 at 11:54 AM 
Blogger Jaquen said...

Jerry VerDorn did not take up the role of Clint Buchanan after the death of Clint Richie. VerDorn assumed the role of Asa's eldest son in October of 2005 and Richie didn't pass away until January of 09. Richie retired, after major dissatisfaction with the direction Clint was taking, had no desire to return to the role outside of short guest appearances. TPTB felt the presence of Clint was needed fulltime, and so they recast.

July 8, 2012 at 12:17 PM 

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