As hard as it may be to believe, it's the end of another year. Before we go racing into 2018, it's time to slow things down and take a look back at the things that entertained us, annoyed us, and made us feel all of the emotions in between.
Jason's return: When I first heard Steve Burton was coming back, I didn't know how they would make it all work, but indeed they have. I am on the edge of my seat every day, just waiting to see what happens next. Will Sam end up with Drew or Jason? Will Drew remember his past and the love affair he had with Kim? Will ELQ be taken over by Heather's twin boys? Will Drew revert to his Navy SEAL Boy Scout nature and use his newspaper to investigate Sonny and Jason? So many juicy angles. This can drag on for months, and I'll keep watching. Until it bores me, and then I'll whine.
Legacy characters: As a longtime viewer of 40 years, I'm always thrilled when GH tips its hat to its rich history of legacy characters. This year, Tracy, Monica, Leslie, Bobbie, Felicia, Mac, Laura, Kevin, and Anna all had actual storylines! It appears as though we are heading toward a run for mayor by Laura, and I'd buy real Champagne and toast the TV if she won. What fun it would be! Laura has been a community activist since her Ward House days, so it's true to the character to have her do that now. Loved it. Keep it coming.
Finn and Anna: I love it when a fake romance turns real. When Hayden took off, I was distressed because I liked Finn and Hayden, but as soon as he started hanging out with Anna and I saw their chemistry, I got sidetracked. If it stands true to soap fashion, as soon as Finn and Anna fall deep and hard and make love, Hayden will show up with a baby. I mean, Love Triangles are the cornerstone of soaps. And, real life, too, I suppose!
Valentin, Nina, and Charlotte: When Valentin speaks French to Charlotte, it melts my heart. I don't care what other qualities Valentin does or does not possess; he's a remarkable daddy. I love the relationship Nina has with Charlotte, too, and I am smitten with Valentin and Nina as a couple. When Nina pulled Cassandra's hair the other day, it was everything. I know I have made my position clear, but I adore Michelle Stafford and her on-screen partner, James Patrick Stuart. I never tire of them. I hope Valentin lives through the New Year to see Charlotte and Nina another day.
Fire, Confrontation Sonny and Carly, and Ava's burns: We had been waiting so long for Ava to get caught for switching Morgan's pills, and when it finally happened, it was so worth it. Those scenes were riveting. Maura West, Maurice Benard, and Laura Wright were all on the top of their game. I could not look away. And when the fire started and Ava was caught inside, I never in a million years could have predicted the aftermath: the always vain Ava losing her beauty, the disfigurement, the scars, the soul-searching. It was such powerful drama. Of course, Ava is down to only a teeny scar and is wrestling between the light and darkness inside of her.
Ava/Griffin: As long as we are talking about Ava, I'm a fan of the Griffin and Ava relationship. Why? The opposites attract angle? No, it's more the redemption of a soul angle. Ava has been a villain, and in her time of need, there was enough goodness inside her heart to catch the attention of the world's most handsome priest. I mean, seriously, if you were a Catholic girl in Father Griffin's parish, would you do anything but try to seduce him? Heavens. But Ava wasn't trying. She was just trying to find a better version of herself and to make amends for the sins that caused Morgan's death. Griffin was drawn to her and had to admit he was attracted to her. He gave up the priesthood and became her lover. She's still a mess and quite a handful, but if anyone can tame her, it's the soulful (former Father) Griffin.
Patient 6: When we first saw Patient 6 in the Russian hospital in a mask worthy of Hannibal Lector, I was extraordinarily impatient. We knew it was Jason; we wanted to see Steve Burton's face. The storyline was totally whack. It was so beyond belief that anyone could be shot up with a horse-sized amount of painkillers and still be coherent, but God help me, I loved it. Suspension of disbelief is my superpower.
Drew Cain, Kim, and Oscar: When it was revealed that Jake Doe (a.k.a. Jason Morgan) was in fact Jason's identical twin, Drew Cain, I wasn't sure where they could go with the story. And then, Tamara Braun returned, and she saw Jason at Sonny and Carly's, and her face lit up like a Christmas star when she thought Jason was Drew. And I thought, "Wow. This is going to be good." Drew, it turns out, is Oscar's dad and Kim's ex-lover, although he doesn't recall. I can hardly wait until he does. I was sure the songs were going to trigger his memory, but alas, I was wrong. But with Jason and Sam kissing on the Haunted Star on New Year's Eve, clearly we have a lot more story left to tell. Who will end up together? Only 2018 knows for sure.
Villains -- Nelle: Chloe Lanier is really good at her job. You know how I know that? Because I despise Nelle, and I am supposed to despise Nelle. That means Chloe is doing a magnificent job of acting like a shady villainess. She's always lying and scheming. But here's the thing: every now and then when Nelle is alone in a room and shows some genuine emotion, and we see this sadness fall over her, I actually feel sad for her. I have hope she can be redeemed. My advice to her is stay away from the stairs at the Quartermaines', as that's where many a baby has been lost. I was touched this week when Monica confessed to Nelle that she hadn't known who A.J.'s father was, either -- a very sweet moment.
Maxie's pregnant: Dear Maxie, stay away from all puppies for the next nine months. And the Q's stairs. And stop wearing stilettos. Do not let anything happen to that baby. I want to see you and Nathan happy, but more importantly, I want to see Liesl become a grandmother.
Frizz: I know some of you are not fans, but I enjoy Liz and Franco together. Will they end up married, or will his last secret about trying to kill Drew come out? Assuming that is even true, since Betsy Frank lied about everything multiple times… As for their parenting skills, you'll find that below on my "Bad" list.
Jordan and Curtis: After dancing around one another for a very long time, Curtis and Jordan finally admitted their feelings for one another and forged a real relationship. That part of the story, I really enjoyed. But for further discussion, see the "Bad" list.
Laura and Kevin's Christmas wedding: I'm glad they got married. I think their relationship is sweet. Not exciting like Luke and Laura, but perfect for a 50-something grandma like me. Tame, tender, supportive, and romantic. Hooray for the AARP-aged romance. On the other hand, Leslie's boyfriend who didn't speak any English? Lucky (coming from Ireland) and Spencer (coming from… Switzerland, France? I can't remember where his boarding school is) both had delayed flights? Dislike.
Carly and Sonny: Yeah, yeah, I know… they are dysfunctional and probably bad for one another and break up and make up over and over. But they have grown and matured. This past year of grieving the loss of their son brought them to a new place of understanding, acceptance, and unconditional love. I like watching them. They make me happy. But would I ever in a million years date Sonny? Never. He's a thug.
Josslyn and Oscar's teen romance: It's important for soaps to introduce teen romances to attract new generations of viewers. Laura and Scotty sucked me in when I was the same age as Laura back in the 70s. Then there were Robin and Stone, and Lucky and Elizabeth, and Molly and T.J., and now, Joss and Oscar. If I were a teen, I would totally relate to them and start watching GH to follow their relationship. Finding out that Oscar is related to Drew makes me think he will be around for a while, which makes me happy.
Ned and Olivia: I enjoy the relationship of Ned and Olivia. I have enjoyed the angle that she's not as sophisticated as the Q's and that she is trying to fit into their world. She's not as fancy as they are. She's a pizza and jeans kind of girl, and they're more lobster and ball gowns. She's finding her way. She is changing them, and they are changing her. I especially like that Ned loves her just as she is and doesn't ask her to change at all. That is a rare and precious gift.
Fake Spinelli for Maxie and Nathan's wedding: If you have a big storyline and the person who originated the role can't make it, you change the wedding day. You don't hire a stand-in for a scene that big. Now, every time we flash back on Maxie and Nathan's wedding, we have to see the fake Spinelli? Bradford Anderson asked us to be nice to the impostor, and I am in no way criticizing his skills; it's just that a wedding scene needed the real Spinelli, no stand-in can fill his shoes.
Franco's weirdo mom: Dear readers, Betsy Frank makes me want to throw things at my TV. I hope we never see her again. She drives me nuts. Franco, both your moms are nuts. Stop visiting them.
Sudden career changes: One day, Lulu decided out of the blue she wanted to be the next Jackie Templeton, an investigative reporter. The next day, she was writing articles, and now she has a staff position on a newspaper! Trust me, it doesn't work that way. I know people with journalism degrees that can't find staff positions on papers. I know it's a soap, and it doesn't have to be believable, but Lulu went from being an assistant, to an assistant at Crimson, to running a nightclub at the Haunted Star, and now she's a journalist. If only switching a career was that simple!
Kiki in med school: The same could be said for Kiki, who went from cheating at online gambling to waiting tables to being in med school. Before you go to med school, don't you have to go to actual college first? And what did Dr. Bensch see in her that convinced him she'd be a great doctor? I think he finds her cute. I have a hunch Dr. Bensch is a little like creepy Roy Moore. I could be wrong, but that's my best guess. My husband, who pretends he doesn't watch GH, said, "Next thing we know, Dr. Bensch will be banned from the Mall in Port Charles."
Dumbest man in PC: Michael Corinthos had to catch Nelle in about 40 lies before it dawned on him that she was a liar. Michael does not have luck with the ladies.
Liz's vanishing kids: Elizabeth has three boys. As I mentioned earlier, while I like Liz and Franco together, it bothers me that we never see her kids. At least we never see two of them. Jake makes an appearance from time to time, but they always say, "Cam and Aiden are with Gram." So why isn't Jake invited to Gram's house? Why is his grandma shunning him? Or why do Liz and Franco want to ditch the other two kids and just have Jake home alone?
Jessica Tuck being a villain: To be honest, I can't decide on this. Some days I like it, and some days not. I remember her as an angel from another soap, so it's hard for me to see her as a drug dealer, but I must say she's doing a wonderful job of making me hate her.
Losing Hayden: I dislike when the writers get me invested in a couple and then send one of the couple away. Then it's left hanging in the air with no ending, and I hate stories with no ending.
Losing Ingo to B&B: For a bright shining second, we had Ingo Rademacher back on canvas as Jax, and then he was gone. Now he's at The Bold and the Beautiful as Thorne Forrester. I'm watching him, and he's doing a great job there, but Josslyn could really use her dad. I'm sorry GH lost him.
Still no Julexis reunion: Some writers a long time ago made the horrendous choice to break up one of the best couples in ages and to do it in such a way that it was nearly impossible to reunite them. We are still waiting for a fix. Dear new writers, I have total faith in you. Whatever plot you write that reunites Julian and Alexis, I will accept, no matter how crazy. Even if Casey the Alien is involved.
SORASed kids: For your consideration, here are the dates when GH kids were born on-screen: Cameron, 2004; Molly, 2005; Spencer, 2006; and Josslyn, 2009. Now, Cameron is a little kid, Spencer is still a kid, but Josslyn is a teenager, and Molly is in college. Remember when Spencer and Josslyn were trying to make Emma and Cam jealous? I can't really see Joss dating Spencer now, can you? Silly soap aging.
Aunt Stella: My mom was the oldest of seven kids, and I have a lot of aunts and uncles. Some of them have done remarkable things for me and truly and deeply impacted my life. None of them ever commented on my love life or gave me an ultimatum to date or not date someone. When Stella guilted Curtis to end things with Jordan, I just didn't get it. It's not like Curtis is 16. He's a grown man, and having his aunt's approval on his love life as the most important thing on earth to him made no sense. I hated the storyline. Now that Stella has a job and is trying to make an impact on the community, I like her better than I did before, but still, if she pitched a fit in the middle of my holiday and fought with my girlfriend, I doubt that she'd make the invite list to next year's holiday dinner.
Tracy's goodbye: Tracy's exit storyline, with the mystery of the painting that looked just like her that Edward supposedly kept hidden in some monastery for safekeeping? Please. Tracy leaving ELQ, which she had fought tooth and nail for her whole life, to go soul-searching? Nope, didn't buy it. But the last moment, finding Luke and presumably riding off into the sunset with him, that part I liked. I just felt that, like Anthony Geary, Jane Elliot didn't get the send-off she deserved.
Losing Dillon Q: In other Quartermaine news, the powers that be decided to end the contract of Robert Palmer Watkins right after they got us invested in Kiki and Dillon's love story. You already know how I feel about love stories without an ending. Boo.
Christina and Parker: They got an ending, somewhere off camera where we can't see them. Maybe they are with Brad and Lucas? GH is bold enough to have storylines with gay characters, but not bold enough to let them integrate into the town and become part of the fabric of Port Charles. That bugs me.
Alexis' alcoholism: I know this is politically incorrect of me to say, but I wish Alexis could drink. I know addiction and alcoholism ruin lives. I've seen it up close. But I am so sad the writers made Alexis an alcoholic. Clearly she likes hanging out in bars because she still goes to bars all the time, even though she doesn't drink anymore. I miss the days of her and Diane dishing over a bottle of wine. I wish we could erase that alcoholism storyline so I could watch my "girls night out" drinking parties on GH again. P.S. I adore Nancy Lee Grahn.
Plot inconsistencies: There are too many to list, but here's the latest… Anna was on the phone with Valentin, he told her that Cassandra was headed to the launch dock. The WSB was supposedly there, waiting to arrest her. So how did she get off of Spoon Island and over to Anna's to abduct her with the WSB on high alert tracking her?
Andre suddenly becoming a villain: Generally when they are going to turn someone evil, you see signs of it. We, the audience, know the character is a baddie before the characters on-screen know it. Like that time they decided to randomly make Paul Hornsby a serial killer… But this time, dear Dr. Andre was exposed to be the mastermind behind the two switched Jasons and memory implanting and such with no prior warning. It felt a little disingenuous, like it was something the writers just threw out there on a whim.
Franco's twin painting: I got so sick of seeing it, it made me miss Heather's BLT painting.
And now, the things that bugged me so much that they deserve their own category.
Ask Man Landers First, I'll start here… My former boss gave me some great advice 20 years ago that stuck with me: "Don't take advice from someone who isn't successful in that area. Don't ask some guy who lives in his mom's basement for financial advice, don't ask your friend who is on her fourth marriage for marital advice. Go to people who are successful in the area where you need help and ask them." So, Amy, who presumably has no experience at love -- at all, whatsoever -- and has not been in a serious committed relationship probably doesn't have the best advice to give. Next up, once it was reported that Nathan was Ask Man Landers, the whole bit with the groupies showing up at his house? C'mon. When was the last time you stalked an advice columnist to their home? I know the answer -- never. You have never done that. No one has ever done that. Next up, Mac and Felicia doing it in the bushes at the park… They would never, ever do that. But the very worst part of this story lies here:
Missed opportunity with Chet The writers did a great job sharing Chet's story and history through Amy. We are a country that has been involved in war since 2001. I live in San Diego, a military town, and I have friends whose husbands have come back injured, or broken, or wrestling with PTSD. What a wonderful and compelling story to tell. There was so much lead-up to the story. We heard Chet was coming on the show. He showed up and -- poof! They completely dropped the storyline and never followed through. It could have been GH's bright, shining moment for the entire year. Tackling America's problem with wounded warriors and shining a light on PTSD. But nope, he just vanished. On the up side, Risa Dorken is a bright, shiny light. She did a magnificent job with the Chet story. But overall, the Ask Man Landers stuff just drove me nuts for months. The meetings with editors and book signings and all that stuff made me scream.
Meanness Dear readers, I used to love opening up my soap inbox and reading all the letters. I answered every single one. But these days, it's a minefield. Sometimes I log in, and there are truly hateful comments. Why? Because they have a different opinion on a storyline. I know this happens to the other columnists and even to the soap stars. If you happen to disagree about an opinion that's posted, or if you're mad that your two favorite characters aren't getting it on, just remember it's a TV show, it's fiction, so be nice. Some people are rooting for Sam and Jason. Some people are rooting for Sam and Drew. Some people are rooting for Liz and Franco. Some people are rooting for Liz and Jason. And guess what? It's all okay. None of it matters! There is no reason to get angry or call people names because they have a difference of opinion. Let's make 2018 the year where we are all a happy, loving soap family, and we treat each other with respect and kindness. We can complain or vent our frustration with a storyline without taking shots at people personally, don't you think?
Here's an example of a good and a bad way to handle minor soap plot disagreements.
Person A) I really wish Sam would pick Jason. I think they belong together.
Person B) Not me, I really like Sam with Drew. I think they have better chemistry.
Person A) It will be fun to see how it all plays out. Let's bet on who she will pick. Loser buys coffee!
Person B) You're on!
Person A) I really wish Sam would pick Jason, I think they belong together
Person B) How can you want her with that $%^#%^#? You must be a #&^%$^R^ moron if you want her with that guy. You're stupid, and I hate your *(*(^&*$* face.
A new year is starting. Clean slate. Be kind.
Thank you, dear readers, for reading this column in 2017 and for laughing and tweeting and being a joy to my life.
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