Who knew that when I was listening to all those hair bands back in the '90s, that I'd actually use one of Poison's song titles for a General Hospital Two Scoops column? Not me. But, after looking back at the year in Port Charles, I can't think of a better way to describe the twists, turns, and loop-the-loops viewers took on the thrill ride of General Hospital. It was "Nothin' But a Good Time."
Yes, it's my job as a critic to identify plots and characters that didn't work, so I will. But let me be clear. Trying to find the worst of anything on General Hospital this year is like trying to pick the worst kind of chocolate. There are no bad choices. Most of my complaints from last year and this year have been addressed, corrected, and buried, like one of Sonny's victims in the Pine Barrens. Here are my picks for the best and worst of General Hospital in 2012.
Best storyline: Robin Scorpio-Drake's "death." My jaw is sore from all the times I've had to pick it off the floor from this storyline's Friday cliffhangers. Turns out, Robin isn't really dead. I love it when plots involve multiple characters under the umbrella, and this tale has pretty much covered everyone -- dead or alive. With a new shock every week, we saw veterans Jerry Jacks, Cesar Faison, Helena Cassadine, Duke Lavery, Anna DeVane, and Robert Scorpio return. It also gave Maxie and Max some riveting scenes. Plus, no one on daytime has given a better performance this year than Jason Thompson as Robin's grieving husband. Despite Robin "dying" months ago, this storyline is like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps going and going. Consequently, it's now fueling the return of the fan-favorite Nurses Ball and beloved veteran Lucy Coe. To accomplish so much with one story idea is, in a word, brilliant.
Best storyline runner-up: A.J. Quartermaine is alive. Another jaw-dropper this turned out to be. Monica kept A.J. alive in a Swiss clinic, where apparently A.J. had time to tan and work out. Seriously, Sean Kanan has never looked better. Fans have been clamoring for A.J.'s resurrection for years. We have high hopes that this will return the Quartermaines -- or what's left of them -- to the forefront again. Sonny, Carly, and Jason shut A.J. out of Michael's life for an entire decade, and that was an injustice that fans want corrected. Plus, let's face it. With Jason presumed dead, we need another leading man. A.J. has charm, swagger, and show history, and I have to admit, I was intrigued by his scenes with Elizabeth.
Worst storyline: Franco is Jason's evil twin, who may or may not have raped Sam and fathered her child. This storyline was disturbing on every level. I watch soaps to be entertained, not disgusted. Jason was horrible to Sam and did not support her for weeks. Then she started lying to him. The rape and pregnancy fractured the Morgan marriage. For me, the most frustrating part was how the writers dealt with Sam's alleged rape. We didn't see her get counseling or deal with the aftermath. It was like the rape was ignored, and Sam moved on to being more concerned with the baby's paternity. In the end, we found out that Jason fathered the child. Whether Franco actually raped Sam or was just playing mind games is still anyone's guess. Selfishly, I hope I never hear the word "Franco" uttered again in Port Charles.
Worst storyline (runners-up): The Mob Princess reality show. Kristina came home from Yale, seething and with a different face. Viewers were first forced try to accept a recast of a fan favorite character. Then, we were forced to watch obnoxious new Kristina in a romance with another new face that we cared nothing about. (Strangely enough, I eventually grew to like Trey before he left town.) Old Kristina was strong-willed but big-hearted. New Kristina was just angry. On paper, the reality show sounded like a great plot idea; anything that tweaks Sonny and Alexis is always a win. But in execution, it was a bust. Thankfully, the GH writers cancelled this reality mess before Kristina became the next Honey Boo Boo.
The lady in white/Cassandra/Irina Cassadine is Helena's pawn. It's never a good thing when one character has three names. I think even the show runners were confused about what to do with this beautiful woman. The lovely mystery lady roamed around Wyndemere in a white dress for months before it was revealed that she was Helena's daughter, Irina. Viewers thought she was somehow connected to Laura, but that didn't play out. Irina seemed to have no purpose. She fell for Ethan instead of assassinating him, which put her at the wrong end of Helena's gun barrels. I don't think anyone was mourning when Irina got her toe tag.
Best character rebirth of the year: Mac Scorpio. For decades, Mac has simmered on the backburner as the police commissioner. Despite wearing the badge, he watched as criminals Jason and Sonny saved the town from disaster and the real bad guys. Much to fan's disappointment, we rarely saw Mac play hero or get heavy material. If we were lucky, he'd get paraded out for his annual holiday kiss with Alexis or an occasional meaningful talk with Robin or Maxie. But this year, we saw Mac get fired from the PCPD and take up his old career as a bartender. Who knew changing careers would spark a character rebirth? The seriousness that surrounded Mac has gone the way of Jake's place, and fun Mac is back in the house. Plus, he deserves some kind of accolades for those strip-pool underwear scenes. John J. York is still a ten after all these years. Mac is back with Felicia and still doling out advice to Maxie, but I hope the writers don't forget that Mac has plenty of history of his own and could have real potential in a love triangle with Alexis and Shawn. Oh, and did I mention his abs?
Worst character assassination of the year: Johnny Zacchara: Johnny Z used to be a sexy piano-playing mobster's son with a heart of gold. He hated the mob life and wanted a different path. This year, I thought Johnny was suffering from the same multiple personality disorder that Kate has. Johnny found out that his sister was actually his mother, which, okay sure, would send you reeling. But we watched Johnny run a black-market organ-trafficking business, blackmail Steve, sleep with mentally ill Kate, kill his father in cold blood, attempt to murder Sonny, accidentally kill a man and his daughter, become a music producer, open a club with his ex-lover Lulu, and hop in the sack with Carly. I will say this, no matter what wacky storyline Brandon Barash gets thrown, he shines. I just hate that Johnny has turned into this.
Best handling of an exit: Edward Quartermaine passes away. We lost the wonderful John Ingle this year, but the writers gave his character one of the best exits I've ever seen on daytime. We saw flashbacks from Edward's younger years and his last days. We even got to hear him sing his traditional Thanksgiving song one more time before he joined Lila and ascended the familiar Quartermaine staircase. Tracy broke our hearts as she said goodbye, as did Monica and the rest of the Q's. Then, we were treated to a parade of familiar faces, including Ned, Skye, and A.J. The Quartermaines were bickering, but the house was filled with love. Edward would have been pleased.
Worst handling of an exit: Jason Quartermaine is killed, and no one seems to notice. For decades, Jason Morgan has been front and center on General Hospital. He was a Quartermaine. When he took a bullet and a header into the Port Charles River, it was implied that he was dead. Steve Burton wanted to leave the show, so the writers were left with no choice but to write him out. I understand that with the developments of his character, death was the only way. However, we didn't get a funeral, and what really irritates me is that Sonny, Carly, and Michael have barely mourned or mentioned Jason since his "death." It's like he just disappeared. Perhaps the writers are trying not to dwell on Jason's absence, so we won't focus on it. Sam and Liz seem to be the only ones still crying over the leather-loving hero. My only explanation for best-friend Sonny's odd behavior is that he knows that Jason is alive somewhere. Otherwise, Sonny would have to be out shopping for some new barware by now, from breaking all his glasses.
Runner-up: Matt Hunter killed Lisa Niles and was sent to jail. He was protecting Robin from a crazy psychopath, but that didn't stop him from getting sent to prison. If the show runners wanted to show Matt the door, they should have sent him out of town on a medical mission, not to prison.
Best new character: Joe Scully Jr. It's rare when a villain can win my heart. But that's exactly what Joe did in the talented hands of Richard Steinmetz. He gave Joe layers and made me believe that he wasn't a bad guy, after all. When Joe's softer side emerged, I even believed that Kate had lied about her rape. Joe seemed like a wonderful father and a fantastic new addition for Tracy's affection. They had incredible chemistry. Joe had history with Sonny and Kate and could have been a keeper. Unfortunately, in the end, Joe became just what Sonny said he was, a kidnapper and murderer.
Runner-up: Sabrina Santiago. She reminds me so much of Ugly Betty, with her wild hair, colorful glasses, and innocence. We all know there is a real beauty hiding under that horrid hairstyle. Sabrina is sweet and an underdog. It's like I'm watching a romance novel play out. I can't wait for her transformation.
Best new/old character: Todd Manning. With Luke Spencer out of town more than he's in town, we need a bad boy who can deliver a one-liner. I was upset at first when I heard about all of the OLTL folks coming to town, because I was concerned that characters I love, such as the Quartermaines, Liz, Alexis, and Mac were going to get even less screen time. But Todd Manning has become one of the best reasons to watch GH for me these days. He's hilarious, charming, and shady.
Best couple: Lulu and Dante. The fact that, other than Sam and Jason, technically we really didn't have any other couples this year makes me hopeful that the new regime will put some romance back in our show. Lulu and Dante dealt with her alcoholism and career change for about a minute, before trying to get pregnant. At least they seem blissfully happy, and I can't say that for any other couple in town.
Worst couple: Sonny/Kate/Connie. At one time, I adored Sonny and Kate. She was tough and a breath of fresh air. However, when Connie emerged, this romance went south for me. She ended up married to Johnny, and Sonny ended up miserable, trying to help her. For all our sakes, I hope Kate comes back soon.
Most wasted character: Ewen Keenan. He was a hot Aussie doctor with ties to the Jacks family. That should have been a score on every level. He had the makings of a soap leading man. With Jax and Jason off-screen, Port Charles is running a little low. I was so excited for this new character, but that didn't last long. The Jacks brothes' characters have been assassinated so horribly that they are both off-screen (at least this week), so Ewen didn't turn out to be a long-lost son or brother. He just ended up in the morgue.
Best surprise: Duke Lavery rips off his face to reveal that he's Cesar Faison. That was one of daytime's most shocking moments ever. Well played, team. That shock was followed closely by the fact that the real Duke is alive, along with Robin, and Jerry Jacks, and A.J. Quartermaine.
Runner-Up: Connie and Johnny are married. She waited until her wedding to Sonny to reveal that little morsel. It was an interesting twist that is still playing out.
Best return: Anna Devane. I love that a woman is running the PCPD again and that she's smart. Yes, I know she was kissing a latex mask on Faison's face, but let's just pretend he was really good at creating costumes, shall we? I'm thrilled that Anna is back and sharing scenes with Mac, John, Robert, and her old friends.
Runners-up: All the other vets. Take your pick. I love all the familiar faces popping back up: Jerry, Robert, Duke, Robin, A.J., welcome home.
Best villain: Jerry Jacks. You just can't kill this guy. He's witty and charming, and I hate and love that he's a villain. This time around, he poisoned the town's water. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us next.
Best move: Hiring Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini. They have saved our show from cancellation, brought back veterans, and changed the tone of the show, from violence to intrigue. Put simply, I love them both and that they care about daytime as much as fans do.
Merry Christmas, Scoopers! I hope you have a safe and wonderful Christmas. That's all for now. See ya next year, Scoopers.
(Policeman John McBain goes to the Quartermaines' to question Tracy.)
John: "I was wondering if I could speak to the lady of the house: Tracy Quartermaine, or does she prefer Zacchara? "
Alice: "Either way, she's no lady."
(Sonny and Kristina fight about her reality show Mob Princess.)
Kristina: "I believe in Mob Princess. Who knows, maybe I'll become the next Kim Kardashian."
Sonny: "That's all you want? Posing for pictures so people can look at your huge (pauses) mistakes?"
(Anthony tells wife Tracy that he's hungry.)
Anthony: "A man's gotta eat, and since it's Cook's night off, you can do the honors. I feel like a steak.
Tracy: "In the heart?"
That's all for now, Scoopers. See ya next time!