General Hospital really is pulling out all the stops to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Perhaps the biggest, unexpected surprise is that here I am writing this week's Two Scoops column. Okay, so this has absolutely nothing to do with the show's anniversary, and by that I mean that Jennifer is locked away in a wine cellar until someone comes along to expose my evil plot.
I'm still fact-checking, but I think that in the 18 years that I've owned Soap Central, this may be the first time that I've written a Two Scoops column for a show other than All My Children. Hopefully, GH fans won't mind my dropping by to chat while Jennifer is tending to some other matters this week.
So where do I begin? I think I will jump right in with the big anniversary festivities. I love the promotion that ABC has given General Hospital, leading up to the show's golden anniversary. If there's any downside, it's that this wave of support really makes it obvious how little promotion the daytime lineup has gotten over the past decade or so. The amount of publicity has actually led a lot of fans to write to me to ask if ABC was canceling the show -- or transitioning it to the Internet.
To the best of my knowledge, there are no plans to cancel General Hospital or move it to the Internet. It's somewhat telling that even after being offered those assurances, there are still a number of fans who are so suspicious of ABC's motives that they still wonder if the network would wait until after the anniversary celebration is over to announce the show's cancellation.
So let's party like it's 1999 -- or 2001, which was the last time General Hospital held a Nurses Ball. We finally got our first peek at where the Nurses Ball will be held, and it looks like it's going to be amazing. It's tough to tell on television, since things tend to look bigger on TV than they are in real life, but the ballroom looks ginormous. It easily has to be one of GH's biggest sets in recent memory, and I am sure this was not an inexpensive undertaking. If you've been listening over the past few months, the characters have made numerous references that the fictional Nurses Ball became "too expensive" to host every year. The same could most definitely be said for the real-life one.
If anyone can pull this off without busting the show's budget, it's Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati. The pair has a proven track record with "events" from their time on One Life to Live. A few years back, One Life to Live featured a three-day musical event, and Valentini always found a way to stretch every dollar as far as possible. Plus, I think that Frank comes off as very approachable, and when you have someone in charge that you respect, you're more likely to go the extra mile to get things done.
This isn't exactly a comment on something that happened last week, but there is one thing that I want to know. It still bugs me to no end that there is a "step up" to get to the nurses' station at General Hospital. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it... and in today's overly litigious society, General Hospital is just one trip and fall from being sued into bankruptcy. Epiphany General. Drake Memorial. Or in the case of one of the hired thugs we got to meet briefly last week, may I suggest Cedars Cyanide?
At this point, it seems a forgone conclusion that Lulu is being held captive by the dastardly Helena Cassadine. I'm sure there is a pretty long list of people who might want to kidnap a Spencer offspring just to get back at Luke, but if not Helena, then who? I mean, we've seen the woman in the commercials talking about "big returns." The only other possible suspect would be this newly feisty Richard Simmons. He could have Lulu locked away somewhere in a dungeon where she is tethered to a wall and forced to perform low-impact aerobic exercises to retro music.
Speaking of retro music, I sure hope that Richard's "General Hospi-Tale" (recorded by the group Afternoon Delights) is available for download.
I am torn about the sendoff for Julie Berman's Lulu. It's great that the character is still involved in some mayhem and mystery even after Julie has left the building. It was also a nice touch that the writers gave Julie that "nightmare" scene with Kirsten Storms. However, from a personal standpoint, Julie has always been incredibly gracious to Soap Central, partnering with us in our annual pet photo contest... so she'll definitely be missed.
Emme (don't call her Marcy) Rylan is also a wonderful lady. She's very sweet and a talented actress. I hope that GH fans give her a chance to work her magic on the role, even those who are still grieving Julie's decision to leave GH.
Dialing it back a few paragraphs to the Cassadines, Nikolas was back all of, say, two minutes before he was taken down by a sniper? I kept thinking to myself, "Oh, they did not just bring him back to kill him off... did they?!" No, they brought him back so that Luke could try to kill him, too. Well, maybe he didn't try to kill him, but Luke injecting adrenaline into Nikolas' I.V. sure didn't help.
I love a good soap villainess, and Constance Towers as Helena Cassadine has always been a favorite. I didn't want to think that Helena could possibly be the one to have ordered the hit on Nikolas, but I guess you really can't put anything past a Cassadine. Then again, when you have as many enemies as Helena, I'd guess that the suspect list is pretty long. It wouldn't surprise me if there were another random Cassadine floating around (or maybe one that we all believed to be dead).
Here's another question that is probably more rhetorical than anything else: Does a gun battle in Port Charles (or on the high seas) ever not end with our hero having to choose between blasting the bad guy and saving the life of his damsel-in-distress love interest?
She isn't exactly a Cassadine, but Dr. Obrecht has all the makings of a hilariously delicious soap opera villain. In fact, her appearance in Port Charles has even made Britt much more interesting. Before? Britt was "the Britch" who bullied around little Sabrina. Fun, but not very layered. Now, Britt is a damaged product of a questionable mother and an unknown father. I can't be the only one who wants to take a trip to see Maury Povich to find out who the father is.
Who is the meanest, worst possible person you can think of? No, not Brian Frons... though let's not cross his name off just yet. The most common answer I've seen from fans is Faison, but others have suggested that Britt might just be a Cassadine. As I said a little while back, I would not be surprised if Ron Carlivati has designs on bringing another generation of Cassadines to Port Charles. With the mob stories taking a back seat for now, why not go back to the classic stories of good versus evil.
One of the first rules in soaps is that a happy couple is, apparently, a boring couple. But what about a couple that isn't a romantic pairing? Carly and Sam have never been the best of friends -- and I am not sure that they ever will be. But I have to tell you that I actually enjoy their uneasy, hesitant... civility. They've both gone through far more loss and drama than most people experience in a lifetime, so if that brings them together, then so be it. I don't want them to be BFFs, but if they want to have a random drink together, then I am all for it.
And what about Sam McCall and all these men who have rattled off the "Don't I know you from somewhere?" line on her. First there was John McBain and now there's the random hospital handyman Anton, who has seen her before and just so happens to be a choreographer. He spent so much time motionless on that ladder during Lucy's speech that he probably had time to re-choreograph Swan Lake.
If Carly and Sam are the anti-BFFs, then the biggest BFFs in town right now are Sabrina and Felix. They're like two peas in a pod -- but there was some friction in the pod when Felix felt that Sabrina was hitting on his man. Okay, so maybe Felix and Milo weren't an item -- and we've never been given any indication that Milo is even interested in guys, but Felix was right: friends should never date another friend's ex or love interest. I felt really bad Felix when he pretty much forced Sabrina to ask Milo to be her date, and I thought that Sabrina should've stuck to her guns and let Milo down gently. Sabrina and Felix are constants in each other's life, and I wouldn't want to see a man, woman, child, animal, or inanimate object mess that up.
There was a fun, new, unexpected drinking game as a result of the battle for Magic Milo: take a drink every time someone comes up with a euphemism for being gay, like Epiphany's quip, "he bats for the other team."
Sometimes hints are subtle, and other times they're like running into a brick wall. While Felix was bemoaning his broken heart, zip across town and Bobbie was expressing her desire for her son, Lucas, to find a nice guy to marry and settle down with. If this isn't foreshadowing, then I don't know what is. So are we to assume that Lucas will be returning to Port Charles? Does that mean that Bobbie might relocate (or unlocate) from Seattle or at least make some additional appearances? Hmm... stay tuned.
At the risk of infuriating the SpinEllie fans out there, I am not a fan of Ellie. I feel like adding a Spinelli-like character makes everything that I love about Spinelli less special. Yeah, yeah, you can rationalize that Ellie makes it so that everyone can see that there are more folks out there like Spinelli, but that's just not my take on it. However, that being said, I loved the fishy repartee between Ellie and Tracy.
TRACY: Well, the ELQ foundation could give you a grant, maybe even build you your own laboratory dedicated solely to your work, the Ellie salmon laboratory.
ELLIE: It's Trout.
ELLIE: Ellie Trout.
That was just one of my favorite exchanges from the week gone by. Here are a couple more.
FELICIA: As it stands, [Mac] is only speak to me through an intermediary
MAXIE: Who? Anna? Kevin?
FELICIA: Mr. Marbles...
MAXIE: Who's that? Is that the guy on the first floor who smells like patchouli?
FELIX: [Milo] asked [Sabrina] out right in front of me.
MOLLY: Wait. You're jealous.
FELIX: You think?
T.J.: I get that. No guy wants to see someone move in on his girl.
FELIX: Hold on. I think we need to back up a second.
T.J.: No, I get it, man. You're into that nurse over there.
EMMA: No, silly. Felix likes boys.
Outta the mouths of babes.
It looks more and more like John McBain, Starr, and Todd are gone for good. For whatever the reason, ABC and Prospect Park appear to be unable to figure out how to play together nicely in the sandbox. So in a matter of weeks, Kristen Alderson, Michael Easton, and Roger Howarth will be returning to your television screens... as new characters. I don't know what really happened, but that doesn't mean that I can't sit here and wag my finger disapprovingly at everyone involved in this mess. As they say, there are three sides to every story -- in this case, ABC's, Prospect Park's, and the truth.
Whether you felt like the characters were invading General Hospital or whether you liked their inclusion, it seems to me that no one is coming out a winner in this one. The three characters were really woven into General Hospital's stories, so now it's back to square one for Sam and John, Carly and Todd, and Starr and Michael. Of those three, I think dissolving Starr and Michael will have the least impact on GH, and giving Kristen Alderson another role to play could make for better story and perhaps a new challenge for Kristen. Serena, anybody? Moreover, I'm not even sure at this point that ABC will legally be able to even so much as mention the names Starr, Todd, and John.
Over on One Life to Live, if the show wants to keep using those three characters, that means all will have to be recast. Maybe that's not such a big deal for OLTL, since it's almost being launched as a "new" show. All My Children will have its fair share of recasts, so what do I know?
Either way, someone needs to lure the executives from ABC and Prospect Park into a room and then lock them there until they either reach some sort of deal or pass out from lack of food and water.
So I have to go land this helicopter and get dressed for my big number at the Nurses Ball. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me for my no-this-isn't-an-April-Fools-joke commentary. Next week, this column will be back in the capable hands of your regular Two Scoopers, but before I go, I'd like to wish a happy 50th anniversary to everyone at General Hospital. I'm so pleased that through Soap Central I've been able to be a part of the show for the past 18 years. Here's hoping for many, many more anniversaries to come.