ABC daytime's sole survivor, but how long can General Hospital stay alive?

For the Week of April 18, 2011
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GH Two Scoops: ABC daytime's sole survivor
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It's time to rally the troops. You heard me. Get out your smart phones. Start texting and emailing. Hit the social network sites. Hire a skywriter. Heck, go old school and pick up a telephone. I don't care how you do it, but get out there and tell anyone who will listen to start watching General Hospital, and do it now.

It's time to rally the troops. You heard me. Get out your smart phones. Start texting and emailing. Hit the social network sites. Hire a skywriter. Heck, go old school and pick up a telephone. I don't care how you do it, but get out there and tell anyone who will listen to start watching General Hospital, and do it now.

Why are you still reading this? Go!

Call your old college roommates, dorm friends, bosses, coworkers, and neighbors that used to watch GH. Call your cousin, mom, grandma, boyfriend, uncle, or aunt, who you got hooked on the show years ago. Call anyone and everyone who used to watch but may no longer. Tell them to get a DVR or dust off the VCR, if they aren't home during the day. We need to get ratings up and show ABC and General Hospital that we are not going down without a fight.

The news this week that ABC cancelled All My Children and One Life to Live stunned fans, despite persistent rumors recently that the shows were headed that way. Yes, daytime has been an endangered species for several years, but many thought that the ABC afternoon daytime lineup was untouchable. But, it's clear now. No show is safe.

Daytime dramas have been given a death sentence, and one by one, they are being put to death. Gone are the monster ratings that once were synonymous with daytime television. Ratings are a miserable fraction of years past. Instead of keeping expensive scripted daytime dramas, the networks are offering up cheaper reality talk shows as replacements for the afternoon timeslots.

ABC President Brian Frons recently said that viewers want more talk shows and reality programs. (Take a moment to digest that.) I don't know what world he lives in, because the one I live in already has a talk show on at any given time of the day, or night, to tell me how to dress thinner, cook the perfect pasta, and decorate my house on a budget. I don't know who Frons has been talking to that could be telling him we need more of these ubiquitous chat fasts.

They want ratings, well let's give them ratings. Get involved, soap fans, and do your part. Tell anyone and everyone that Brenda is back, and that Jason has abs of steel and knows how to work a black t-shirt and leather jacket. Tell them we have a blue-eyed-billionaire corporate raider who surfs; a romantic handsome prince; a moody mobster; gorgeous, gutsy women; and we have Luke Spencer. We have heartbreaking drama, splendid comedy, dreamy romance and yes, gun-toting gangsters. Where else can you get all of that in one short hour? Nowhere.

I may be Don Quixote tilting at windmills on this mission, but I don't care. Naysayers, I'm sure you think soap fans are fighting a losing battle. Logically, I know all the arguments are against us: the landscape of television has changed; both sexes work full-time jobs and don't have time for soaps; it's cheaper to produce reality TV. And while that all may be true, the bottom line is networks can't argue with ratings. So, if we can get eyeballs on the show, then that's our only chance. Do I expect that the 20 million people watching Dancing With the Stars will suddenly start watching GH? No, I know it's not 1983. But, I do think we can improve the dreadful ratings that daytime is currently garnering.

Shockingly, there will be only four daytime dramas left on the air when AMC and OLTL depart. To think that two years ago, CBS had four soaps on its lineup alone, well, it's tough to comprehend that the iconic genre of soaps has one foot in the grave. With only four left, they should all be topnotch. And I hope that the shows make changes promptly to get them that way. If the writing is poor, bring in some new blood. Good writers are out there! (Check out an episode of Modern Family, if you don't believe me.)

With only four soaps left, the networks should be able to lure the best folks in the business. Maybe they can find another Douglas Marland or Agnes Nixon that will honor show history and core families, as well as bring exciting new ideas to the landscape. The show honchos should also take advantage of fans. There has never been better customer feedback than a soap fan. If thousands protest when you fire a fan favorite or long-time character, then listen to them, and change your plan. Give them what they want, to an extent, and they'll give you ratings and loyalty -- Sonny Corinthos style. It's the best hope daytime has right now, or it may go the way of the eight-track tape and the bag phone.


  • A couple weeks ago, I begged GH to stop this Michael storyline before he got too far down the "I-want-to-be-a-mobster-when-I-grow-up" path. Well, I have to admit when I'm wrong. Watching Jason fight with Michael about "the business" so closely paralleled the conversation Jason had with his own family more than a decade ago, about getting into the mob. Those scenes were beautifully written and played this week, with a nod to show history. I loved them, and I'm thrilled that the sins of the father/uncle are being revisited on the son. Now, if only Michael will listen, and not dismiss his parents the way Jason did.

    I don't want Michael signing up for his black t-shirt and leather jacket anytime soon. One Quartermaine in the mob is enough for a lifetime. We've already seen this story played out, so, I don't want to see it again. He needs to find another career path. Paging Dr. Monica Quartermaine! Now would be a perfect time for "Take Your Grandson To Work Day" and get him interested in medicine, perhaps specializing in traumatic brain injury. If Michael doesn't want to wear a suit, may I suggest scrubs? It's time he lived up to the Quartermaine name, not down to the Corinthos one.

  • Oh Brenda Barrett, how you continue to perplex. If I didn't know better, I'd think Suzanne was drugging Brenda. That's one explanation for her strange, inconsistent behavior. First, she told Jax that she was concerned about bringing her child into Sonny's lifestyle, then two days later, she brushed it off. Then, she told Sonny that the damage that was done to his children was because of Carly and not Sonny. Um, okay. And she still hasn't bothered to have a DNA test on her new son, despite that Suzanne is a proven liar and manipulator. And don't get me started on Brenda's insensitivity toward Kristina.

    Brenda went on ad nauseaum about Lucian and bonding as a family with Sonny and building playgrounds in the backyard. After that perfect mental family picture, I can't blame poor Kristina, I'd be looking for some drugs, too. I understand Brenda probably doesn't realize all of Kristina's daddy issues, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how devastated poor Krissy was at Brenda's perfect-family talk, when Krissy just wants some time with Sonny herself. Please, give us better, consistent writing for Brenda. She isn't this person!

  • I can't help but chuckle that Maxie and Lulu mention tyrant-boss Kate several times a week, despite that we haven't seen her in years. Am I the only person who misses Kate?

  • I can't rave enough about the girl-bonding I saw this week. It's about time. It seems like females on this show just can't get along, and I was thrilled to see Liz confiding in Maxie, and Sam apologizing and offering a shoulder to Liz, too. I get so sick of the nonstop girl fights all the time. (Yes, Carly, Robin, and Lisa, I'm talking to you.)

  • Just when I thought Steve Webber wasn't going to get any meaty scenes about Jake's death, he hit the trifecta with Luke Spencer. Watching him read Luke the riot act, with the intention of helping Liz deal with her grief, was powerful. Scott Reeves can act, so how about giving him more to do than being consistently duped by Lisa?

  • Nikolas was excellent this week, too. I loved his scenes with Lucky and with Luke. I'm still scratching my head as to why Tyler Christopher has been fired. This is a no-brainer, GH. Rehire him, now. He's too big of a loss to bear now.

  • If you haven't already done it, please add this to the GH drinking game. Every time Sam or Jason say that their lives "aren't set up for children," take a swig. You'll be drunk in no time.

  • They really are going there. Kudos to the writers for tackling the alcoholism storyline of Luke Spencer. Tony Geary is one of, if not the best, actor in daytime, and I can't wait to see more every day. Maura West broke my heart on As the World Turns, playing an alcoholic, but this storyline seems so much more realistic because frankly, we've been watching Luke drink for decades. When Tracy threw the ball at him, and he missed catching it, she clearly showed that drinking impairs reflexes. Tracy is a clever gal, and I'm glad she's forefront in this story, too.

  • Say it with me, "Carly, shut up!" I couldn't believe my ears when she told Sam to get pregnant with Jason's child. Is this the same woman who sat with a comatose Michael and commended Liz for keeping Jake out of the mob life? Maybe Carly's taking that inconsistency drug that Suzanne may or may not be slipping Brenda.

  • Goodbye, Brook Lynn. We hardly knew you. Say hi to Lois, and tell her Brenda is back in town. And I know saying goodbye to your "companion" Nikolas was important, but don't you think you should have at least managed an adios to your dear old "Granny" or Grandpa Edward?

  • I love Kelly's as much as Michael, Robin, and Liz, but we really need to find another place for the good folks of Port Charles to eat. Mac should reopen the Outback. (Maybe then he'd at least get some screen time.) Or Tracy should start serving food on the Haunted Star. That place couldn't get a customer if it were giving away money.

  • Watching missed opportunities is tough sometimes. I can't help but feel that way every time I see Jax and Alexis in a scene, or now Johnny and Olivia. Chemistry doesn't lie, and those couples had it. Huge misses there, in both cases.

  • Did I miss something with Johnny and his dad? Did I really hear him telling the old man he would come to visit but couldn't bring a rosary? When did Johnny patch things up with his wacko father? I'm guessing this must be some kind of weird mob play. I miss the Johnny that used to play the piano and hated the family business.

  • Speaking of daddy Zacchara, the clues seem to be pointing toward him murdering Brandon. Johnny seems like a prime suspect, too. The one thing we do know, because Dante told us so, is that Jason didn't do it. Maybe Jason should hire Dante as his attorney.

    Best Lines of the Week:

    (Nik and Brook say goodbye, and she tells the prince how grateful she is for their time together.)
    Brook: "I've learned a lot, and I'm not just talking about which fork to use."

    (Alexis and Jax discuss the fact that Brenda's newfound son is now living at a mafia boss's house.)
    Alexis: "I realize I'm in no position to judge, but knowing what I know, I have to question the advisability of Brenda moving her son into Sonny's house. Does she not know that the odds are her child will either be kidnapped, shot at, or blown up?"

    (Diane asks Max how Sonny is handling being a new stepfather to Brenda's three-year-old son.) Max: "Great! Mr. C is a natural dad."
    Diane: (laughing) "No, no, he naturally knows how to create children. There's a big difference."

    Jennifer Biller
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