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 Two Scoops: April 4, 2011 columns
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The ugly truth: Is Luke Spencer an alcoholic?
For the Week of April 4, 2011
Luke Spencer has always liked his scotch. And his vodka, and his bourbon, and his tequila. As viewers, we've watched Luke throw back drinks on a daily basis, the way most people drink water. For years, drinking has been Luke's character quirk, much like Jason's stone-cold stare or Spinelli's incessant babbling.
Luke Spencer has always liked his scotch. And his vodka, and his bourbon, and his tequila. As viewers, we've watched Luke throw back drinks on a daily basis, the way most people drink water. For years, drinking has been Luke's character quirk, much like Jason's stone-cold stare or Spinelli's incessant babbling. Many times, Luke's drinking has been used as a humor device, as it often is in television, all the way back to the days of Otis on The Andy Griffith Show and Norm and the boys on Cheers. But this week, Luke's drinking was no laughing matter. He had a few, got behind the wheel, and killed his four-year-old grandson. How do you twelve-step your way back from that?

If you're Luke Spencer, you have another drink, of course, despite the protestations from your wife and son that you have a problem. Luke insisted that he was not drunk the night that Jake was killed, despite having a few drinks. And I suppose if one imbibed the way he does, then one would build a tolerance to the effects of alcohol. But, the bottom line is alcohol impairs. And maybe Luke wasn't sloppy-falling-down drunk, but he did hit a kid and didn't realize it. It's hard to buy that his drinking didn't affect his alertness in some capacity.

Is Luke an alcoholic? It's not a fun question. We don't want to think of good-time, mischievous Luke as having a problem. But, I think the answer is a resounding yes. And while I'm no expert on addiction, it seems Luke has all the signs, including a family history. I know people who drink like Luke. I've seen them drink nonstop, yet they never seem drunk, so I can almost buy his argument that he wasn't drunk, too. Sonny and Lulu don't believe he was drunk, but Jason, Lucky, and possibly Tracy aren't buying it. So, this is going to be an interesting and messy plot to watch unfold, if done correctly.

I wasn't thrilled when I realized GH was going to kill a child and do a transplant story again. I was even less pleased when I realized the breakneck speed at which it unfolded. But, if this plot isn't so much about Josslyn's transplant and becomes more about Luke's drinking and Jake's tragic death, then I have to say it's a brilliant twist. It's a risky move to make a popular antihero, such as Luke, the one behind the wheel. But, wow, has it paid off. His scene with Lucky when Luke realized he had hit Jake left me sobbing, along with both of them.

Alcoholism and DUI-death storylines are hard to watch. It makes people uncomfortable. Luke's drinking has always been the elephant in the room. And whether it's alcohol, a bad marriage, or an addiction of some other kind, these are problems for many people who choose to ignore them because it's too messy and upsetting to confront it head-on. That seems to be where GH is headed with this tale. Kudos to the writers for hitting us with Luke's drinking problem. There are no easy answers here, and that makes for rich, complicated storytelling.

As for the actors, there aren't enough column inches here to fill with praise. The performances have been topnotch. We watched Luke at a rare weak moment when he broke down. Jason, a.k.a. "Stone Cold," has never been so distraught, with his red-rimmed eyes, tear-stained face, and empty, haunted looks. His scenes alone have sent me through an entire box of Kleenex. And poor Liz, her pale face and hunched body seem numb as she moves from space to space. These actors are sublime and treating us to something rare. While I hate watching it because I've had a migraine from crying all week, I can't look away. In fact, it's been so tough watching the show the last two weeks, I'm yearning for one of Luke's shots of Crown Royal simply to numb the pain.


Meanwhile:

  • Suzanne, you bad, bad, girl. In a surprising move, Suzanne slit her husband's throat. (Goodbye, Theo!) I should have realized how good she was with a knife, after that number she did on Brenda's wedding dress. I guess Suzanne was protecting her grandchild. Brenda, you have been warned!

  • Can someone please explain to me why Carly hates Brenda the way Luke hates cops? I've watched this show for decades, and, honestly, I can't recall any incidents between these two ladies that would justify such a venomous attitude from Carly toward Brenda. It's baffling. If Carly is still hung up on Sonny, I suppose it would make sense, but I haven't seen that either. It's a mystery, much like the pyramids, Stonehenge, and the disappearance of Kate, Audrey, and Epiphany.

  • I'm not sure whether to be furious or elated that we were spared the memorial service for little Jake. I guess since Sonny, Brenda, and Jason didn't go, the writers probably thought why bother. But, if you're telling a gut-wrenching story like this, why would you not include a funeral? Liz, Luke, Lucky, Steven, and the Jacks family would have given us some great moments. Perhaps it would have been too hard to explain why Audrey and Laura didn't attend. I guess I should be thankful that we were spared seeing a tiny coffin and pictures of Jake. That photo on the mantel beside his toy motorcycle is enough to get me sobbing.

  • On a shallow note, Steve Burton looks amazing in a suit. Please, put him in the business world for no other reason than to see him in a crisp white shirt on a daily basis.

  • Is the reason everyone is telling Luke to leave town that it's time for Tony Geary's annual vacation? I hope not. I really don't want him to leave just as this story is gaining steam.

  • Uh-oh, Michael's packing. This is bad, folks. Very bad. Threatening Abby's boyfriend with a gun is only going to get Michael sent back to jail. Didn't he learn anything last week, when Dante caught him overseeing one of Sonny's "shipments?" I must confess I hate this storyline. We've watched this kid suffer for months due to his rape in prison, yet he seems oblivious to the fact that his constant participation in illegal activities will send him right back to jail. Yes, I know he's trying to protect his girlfriend, but he could easily do that by calling Jason or Sonny. It's hard to believe that a sensitive young man like Michael wouldn't try to stay as far away from a life of crime as possible, after enduring what he did in prison. Writers, I'm begging. Turn this storyline around, now. I don't want to see a new generation of mobsters in Port Charles, especially not another Quartermaine, who has tons of storyline possibilities that don't involve the mob.

  • You've probably heard the news that Genie Francis is headed to The Young and the Restless, where her character will have had a son, Cane, with Tristan Rogers. Oh happy day, GH fans! Laura and Robert are together again, and I can't wait to see it. General Hospital's loss is Y&R's gain.

  • Michael and Abby's love scene was sweet. Sure, some may say it was a little awkward, when he couldn't get her bra unsnapped, but I thought it was realistic. I'm enjoying this couple. But, I'm a little concerned that Abby was so anxious to drop the charges against Brandon. Is it possible Abby is going to turn out to be playing Michael? That would be an interesting twist and a painful one for Michael.

  • Brenda Barrett has disappointed me on so many levels during her return. Thank you, Powers That Be, for destroying one of my all-time favorite characters in Port Charles. This week, Brenda decided it was more important to laugh giddily with her new husband about opening wedding gifts and writing the obligatory thank you notes than to offer a shoulder to Jason and Jax, both of whom she confesses to still "love" in her very own Brenda way. Here's what bugs me. Jason dropped everything in his life to jet around the world and save Brenda when she was in trouble, but she couldn't be bothered to get her driver to chauffeur her across town to give him a hug and offer a quick condolence?

    As for Jax, his daughter is facing a life-threatening illness and just had transplant surgery. Wouldn't that at least warrant a supportive phone call or hug from his pal Brenda? She apparently had time to go to the hospital and offer an olive branch to an unreasonable Carly and discuss step-parenting. I get that Brenda didn't want to get on Jason's nerves, but these two have an odd friendship. We saw that bond on a daily basis for the first few months, when she returned to the canvas. I'm sorry, but Brenda's return has been a huge disappointment for me. Last week, I caught an old episode of Las Vegas, and Vanessa Marcil was so much fun to watch in the character of Sam on that show. She was tough, well-written, and played beautifully. Brenda Barrett used to be like that, too. I don't recognize this woman.

  • News broke recently that Tyler Christopher had been fired, just after we heard that Rebecca Herbst was un-fired. GH, please stop firing long-term characters with family ties all over town. If you have to cut the budget, please start with characters we hardly know. May I suggest Lisa, Terrell, Olivia, Matt, May a, and Siobhan. Ditching characters with core family history who have been on the canvas for years is a no-no. Nicholas is a Cassadine with ties to the Spencer family! Sigh. This is beyond outrageous.

    Yes, the writing for Nicholas has been uneven, and that's putting it kindly. But, just because the writers can't come up with anything for him to do, other than get busy on his sofa, doesn't mean he should be eliminated. This character has the potential to be one of the most interesting on the canvas, along with Jax, if those in charge would just tap into some creativity. Nicholas is a prince with an evil family. Jax is a billionaire corporate raider. Go with that. It has all the romance and allure that we soap fans love. Ingo Rademacher recently said he would be off-screen soon, too. These are bad decisions for the show, in terms of continuity and talent. With good writing, I'd rather watch Jax and Nicholas on any given day than the plethora of boring, new characters constantly bombarding our screens.

  • Thumbs up to the Lucky and Maxie scenes this week. I forgot how much I love these two. More, please.

  • Elizabeth must still be in shock. That's the only explanation for her kindness toward Luke. Yes, she feels guilty for leaving the door unlocked that led to Jake's death, but Luke confessed that he was drinking when he hit her child, and she still didn't lose it. That is one tough gal. I can't believe it will last long, though.


    Best Lines of the Week: Sorry, Scoopers, but I don't think I laughed once this week, unless you count the commercial for the "Secret Life of Damian Spinelli" book that aired during General Hospital's timeslot. (It comes out April 5, so somebody drop me a note and let me know how it is!) Maybe next week, we'll get some levity.


    Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.
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