It doesn't happen very often, but every now and again, the stars align (read: the two Two Scoops columnists have off), and I get to swoop in and share my thoughts on a soap. This time around, it's General Hospital -- and since I don't get to write a commentary very often, when I do get the chance, I tend to cast the net a little further and look back at the highs and lows for more than just the previous week.
How far am I planning to look back? Picture it:
Sicily Port Charles, New York -- August 2020. The show had just returned after about a three-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a side note, this Delta variant of COVID is a recast that no one needed. But I digress.
General Hospital came back firing on all cylinders. There was that surprise return of Dante Falconeri, an improvised Nurses Ball that honored first responders, Franco started to unwind, Mike Corbin lost his battle with Alzheimer's, Nelle fell from a cliff to her death (wink, wink), the Floating Rib blew up, Lulu was critically injured and shipped off-screen, and Julian was killed. And that was just in the five months spanning GH's return through the good-riddance-to-bad-rubbish end of 2020.
Why dwell on all of this old news? Because General Hospital did what none of the other soaps did: it came back from the production hiatus with a vision. [NOTE: Days of our Lives was already written months and months ahead, so the NBC soap didn't have the same break that GH, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful did) Since August 2020, every month, every week has been like a Sweeps period. Now, that doesn't mean that every storyline or every episode is flawless -- but something happens in every episode. I'll take entertaining and interesting over so-called perfection any day. And, the show didn't (and still doesn't) look any different than it did prior to all hell breaking loose in the real world.
To me, it looks like the head writers used the first-of-its-kind break to actually plot out storyline. Let's be honest, with soaps airing five days a week (nearly) every week of the year, there's never any down time to really plot and plan. It's always a rat-a-tat, rapid fire situation where every day needs a new episode. To have three months to create a vision board, plot long-term story, and just chill out and recharge one's battery goes a long way.
Again, I have no idea if this is really what happened behind the scenes at GH. It's just my educated guess when I compare the four soaps. I've made requests to interview General Hospital co-head writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O'Connor to ask them what they did during the production break, but... nothing so far. Maybe one or both of them will read this column, and we'll finally get an answer. If they didn't do any long-term story planning during the break, then the pair clearly needs to clone themselves or give the other soaps some lessons.
I was absolutely certain that Van Etten and O'Connor's pandemic plots had run out a couple of months ago when Cyrus was sent off to the pokey and Peter was "killed." Or maybe he was killed-killed without the quotation marks. We'll get to that in a bit. For months, it was "bad guys run amok in Port Charles," and it seemed like they'd never get caught or punished. When both Cyrus and Peter's reigns of terror ended almost simultaneously, it seemed like a really bad idea and the end of that something-happens-in-every-episode thrill ride I spoke of a few paragraphs back.
Instead of no key stories, General Hospital pivoted. We traded in the gloom and doom for more traditional soap storylines: long-lost relatives, love triangles, scheming relatives, and an unusual twist on a murder mystery. Heck, we even have actual hospital storylines now. And there's the new, gorgeous rooftop pool set that we've seen on-screen every day. It must only rain during Sweeps months in Port Charles. That would explain that cactus forest we saw Finn and Elizabeth chatting in the other week.
Is Peter August really dead? You know, it seemed too good to be true when he was hurled down the steps at the hospital. While some fans celebrated Peter's demise, others were on social media all-caps tweeting that Peter wasn't really a doornail. A doctor should be able to tell if someone is dead. Finn declared Peter dead, even if he omitted the "Time of death... 15:34" part. So, Finn can come up with complex treatments for unknown toxins, but he can't take a proper pulse? Maybe he was nervous. Maybe he lied about Peter being dead so that he could kill him later... or inject Peter with some of his own poison. I dunno.
Something about me that you might find interesting: when I go to the supermarket, I typically only buy enough food for a few days. Why? That way I know food won't spoil. And I don't like to put things in the freezer because things go in... and then I forget about them. Had I put Peter in my freezer, he'd probably get lost somewhere behind the Hot Pockets and tub of rocky road ice cream. I'd say something healthier like Brussels sprouts and veggie burgers, but I don't eat those, and I don't like to make a habit of lying to people reading my column.
Peter was the only thing in that really big chest freezer. Maybe the freezer was supposed to be a prop in Jake's Nurses Ball magic show, and Peter is hiding in some sort of secret trap door in the bottom of the freezer. Abra-cadaver!
If Peter isn't dead, obviously he'll be back to cause trouble. I'm mostly okay with that, as long as it doesn't happen soon. Let Finn and Elizabeth (and everyone else) stew for a couple of months. If Peter is dead, I am at a loss to figure out how that story plays out. Maybe Peter has a nerdy, evil(er?) twin brother named Skeeter who stole the body and is plotting revenge on everyone. I'd have named the brother Heimlich, but that would be a little too hard to swallow.
In other things that tickle me... I loved the header image that I created for Tamilu's Two Scoops column last week. Had I known I was writing the column this week, I probably would have saved it for myself! If you missed it, when you're done with this week's column you can check it out here.
Another storyline that I am waiting to see unspool is this whole "Mike" thing. We know that Sonny will get his memory back. He (by way of portrayer Maurice Benard) is the "star" of the show, according to GH executive producer Frank Valentini. It seems a decent assumption that Sonny will return just as Carly and Jason are getting hitched. To see the love of his life marrying Carly -- I kid! At least partially -- but to see Carly and Jason marrying might provide the perfect cover for Nina to explain why she's been lying to "Mike" for all these months. "Carly told me to!" or "I was only trying to protect you!" It doesn't matter that it's a lie. It might be twisted enough for an unamnesiac Sonny to believe.
Or it could lead to Nina being Port Charles's most-hated person and the victim of a whodunnit. Maybe she gets tossed over the same cliff that claimed Nelle's life.
I still haven't decided how I feel about Austin's arrival. On one hand, I'm glad that the new character is a Quartermaine. On the other hand, did we really need Roger Howarth as another character when they easily could have brought back Todd Manning or just decided not to kill off Franco in the first place? Sidebar: I assumed that killing off a major character like Franco was going to kickstart a "Who killed Peter?" storyline. We got the killed Peter part, but not really the murder mystery that I was hoping for. The show had suspects for daaaaaaaaays.
Another recast I haven't fully embraced yet is the new Spencer. This is clearly a "it isn't you, it's me" issue. I had become so used to associating Nicolas Bechtel as Spencer that I don't want to admit that he's moved on and the role was recast. That said, Nicholas Chavez is doing a really nice job. His Spencer is different, but also the same, if that makes sense. I am really looking forward to see Nicholas make the role his own.
Speaking of recasts, why recast Lucas if he isn't going to be used?
We had a Lulu mention. Of course, we super soap sleuths immediately begin wondering if that means Lulu is returning. Is it time? For me, yes. But I suspect Lulu won't show any signs of improvement until 'round about the time that Mr. Falconeri gets in flag-Dante delicto with Sam.
I've never been a single couple "shipper." In fact, I've never used the word "shipper" until this column. Do I have couples that I like? Yup. Do I stop watching a show if that couple goes kaput? Nope. No couple is an island, and if there isn't more to a show than just a couple or a character, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be watching said show in the first place. It's also important to remember -- since this is a Why GH is the best column -- that just because your favorite couple isn't together or the story you want told isn't being told, that doesn't mean that the show isn't good.
I liked Jason and Sam as a couple. I also liked Jason and Elizabeth as a couple way back in the wayback. I am also intrigued by the idea of Jason and Britt as a couple. Each of the pairings with Jason offered something different that I have liked. As for the marriage-of-mob-convenience that's slated for Jason and Carly? Eh. I'm trying to decide which would be better: Jason and Carly actually falling in real love, or this "we need to be a united" front relationship. If they were truly in love, it would make Sonny's impending return all the more explosive.
I can say with all certainty that Willow and Michael are more effective than a bottle of Zzzquil. They are good and wholesome, but so are the Brussels sprouts and veggie burgers that aren't in my freezer. I need Willow to snap and start killing people. That would make her interesting to me. The sneaky affair with Michael ranks somewhere between watching paint dry and watching a pot of water boil. I've done both -- don't judge. What I do for fun on my own time is my business!
Dante and Sam are... interesting. Both are stubborn and hardheaded. Their Metro Court spat where they tried to figure out what they were to each other amused me to no end. It even unwittingly inspired me to create a semi-viral GIF.
I guess what appeals to me is the newness of it. I have no idea if I like them as a couple, but it's uncharted territory and something new. So, I will settle in and enjoy it for what it is. FYI: All of the above also applies to the Jason/Britt pairing.
Thank goodness Shawn Butler is finally out of jail. It took way too long and may have only finally been brought about by the conversation that we're having in the real world... but it's done. Now we need more than a commuted sentence. We need vindication for the character. I don't like the idea of going to jail for a crime you didn't commit and having it justified as penance for crimes you did, but got away with. I also feel that way about the "Oops! We should have given you the Emmy/Oscar/Grammy, but here's one now for something that wasn't as good!"
It's inevitable that Hayden will be returning, right? If the pandemic planning that I wrote about at the top of the column really happened, then there is no way that the show would craft this storyline and not have Rebecca Budig reprise her role as Green... er, Hayden. They had Harmony come back, for goodness' sake. But will it be long-term? One would think that the show might try to recapture some of the magic that Budig had with former All My Children costar and soon-to-be GH star Cameron Mathison. Truth be told, I was more of a Greenlee and Leo fan than a Ryan and Greenlee fan, but whatevs. I don't see Josh Duhamel joining General Hospital anytime in the near millennium.
Speaking of All My Children, I've said it a squillion times already, but GH really needs to have David Hayward written onto the GH canvas. This isn't just a case of me wanting an AMC character to find new life. David was Anna's husband. They have history. He's a world-renowned cardiologist that could have been called in to help treat Lenny. Doctor... General Hospital. Hello! Maybe Vincent Irizarry doesn't want to reprise the role. Maybe the in-the-works AMC primetime sequel precludes it from happening. But I still want it to happen.
I like that there is some hospital action taking place. I don't think we'll ever get anything in the way of true medical storylines, since that's more of a Grey's Anatomy thing, or what Port Charles was to have been. That said, Britt and Terry as co-chiefs-of-staff has the potential to be fun. Maybe they'll end up as GH's next set of frenemies.
Alrighty, now that everybody is lounging poolside at the Metro Court, I'm going to see if I can get Spencer to siphon gasoline out of people's tanks so that I can go on a little road trip. I hear Nixon Falls is nice this time of year. I hope you've enjoyed my special guest appearance -- and thanks for letting me play in the Two Scoops sandbox.
Dan J Kroll
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