Saturday, February 8, 2014

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Is there anything good to write about these days?

Talking about General Hospital right now is starting to make me sound like a broken record.

I don’t want to complain, but there’s so much to keep complaining about.

So, instead of doing my now weekly diatribe about how the continuity is bad and sustained momentum is non-existent, I thought we could do something different this week.

Let’s talk about what is good.

I know, I know, that’s shocking. Still, let’s give it a shot.

First up? Performances. You know you have a good actor when a serious pile of dung is placed in front of them and they still manage to act their little hearts out. You know, for example, that Laura Wright must have spent the better part of the last two weeks cringing when she saw the scripts – and yet she sold her performance.

The same goes for Roger Howarth, Tyler Christopher, Kimberly McCullough, and William DeVry.

Roger Howarth has been handed the worst role on television, and yet he keeps trying to spin it into
gold. The writers keep trying to prop him. And, even though fans aren’t buying the redemption of Franco, they do still love Howarth.

As for McCullough, she’s been handed a terrible exit storyline and yet she keeps acting her little heart out. The writers could have ended the Scrubs marriage and given Robin a realistic exit – but Ron Carlivati is incapable of that. He’s a plot driven writer and character driven writing is akin to a bad word in his vocabulary.

Then you have DeVry, who has spent the last two weeks getting his butt kicked and then tattling to the local police commissioner. What kind of mobster tattles to the police commissioner? I mean, really? Then he stalked his daughter and came off as a bigoted jerk to his son. Not great writing, but it was a great performance.

And, finally, poor Tyler Christopher. His Nikolas has to be the dumbest man in Port Charles. He knows that Britt is a consummate liar that is having something held over her head by her mother. He knows that baby Ben has Dante’s latex allergy and that Britt stole genetic material from the lab to make him. He’s seen that the baby looks exactly like his sister and yet he still seems to believe every lie Brit tells him.

Listen, I’m a Britt and Nik fan – I’m rooting for them over the long haul. She’s still got to get her payback and comeuppance. Having Nikolas prop her is not doing either character any favors. The reason why fans rallied behind Britt in the first place was as a reaction to all the propping Sabrina was getting. Britt is going to be harmed, not helped, by the same propping.

There’s been a lot of debate recently about how unrealistic GH is. I have to agree, the soap is out there right now. We’ve got enough dead characters back to fill a graveyard.

That’s not the problem, though.

I like soaps because they’re surreal. One of my most favorite stories ever on a soap was Eterna on . That story was ridiculous. It was about an underground city where they dressed like Star Trek rejects and the city was never found under a mountain range – in Pennsylvania. Yeah, stupid.
One Life to Live

I bought it, though, because of the emotions attached to it. I bought it because Erika Slezak and Andrea Evans sold me on Eterna and the heartache that lived there. I bought it because Jessica Tuck and Slezak had such wonderful mother/daughter chemistry. I bought it because, even though the story was stupid, the emotions were real.

GH has a lot of stupid storylines right now. We have a retread of a pregnancy triangle (with two of the same players as a year ago) that is falling so flat even bad implants wouldn’t help it. We have a serial killer cured with a brain tumor chasing a deranged BLT loving killer he buried alive three weeks ago as she wanders around town menacing everyone – and yet nobody notices. We have a doctor in jail for a two-decades old killing even though there is no evidence and his twin brother was a serial killer. We have a long-missing Cassidine wandering around asking someone to unfreeze two other Cassidines and one street thug. We have a baby switch, a tattling mobster, the most boring teen scene in decades, and a barware throwing mobster that somehow manages to make a profit even though he doesn’t run guns or drugs. And you know what? The stories aren’t the problems. There’s no emotion attached to any of them – and that is the problem.

Because of my work schedule, I DVR GH every day. I used to come home at night and watch GH
before anything else. Not anymore. Now, on a weekly basis, more often than not two or three episodes are waiting for me to watch them on Sunday. And, you know what? I’ve started deleting them instead of watching them.

Yes, GH’s ratings are up. Every single soap has higher ratings right now. That can be attributed to changes in online viewing and the ending of the soap opera cable channel. That can be attributed to fans being terrified of losing their shows. You can also attribute that to returning stars and their huge fanbases.

On GH, at least, you cannot attribute that to the writing – because the writing is a mess.

These are talented casts with the desire to do something special. Stop giving them crap and let them shine.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much.

What do you think? What’s GH’s greatest strength right now?


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