Play it again, Frank
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With new episodes at an end -- for now, General Hospital intends to air throwback episodes starting with three weeks of the best Nurses Ball moments. But what comes next? Liz Masters lists her top five must-see episodes and her hopes for the show when it returns to the airwaves this summer.

Well folks, it's been a week since GH aired the last batch of original episodes, and I'm torn. I enjoy the flashback episodes, but I'm chomping at the bit to see what comes next. Will the judge fall for Nelle's ridiculous attempts to outmaneuver Michael and Willow, and what dark fate awaits Julian now that he's married to black widow Nelle?

Nelle -- and Martin -- can't have it both ways. They can't cry foul about Michael and Willow getting married to give Wiley a stable home life then parade Nelle's own farce of a union with Julian as if it's the best thing to happen since indoor plumbing became a thing.

At least, Michael and Willow had a genuine friendship prior to getting hitched, while Nelle and Julian barely crossed paths before she managed to drag him to the courthouse.

Also, Michael doesn't want to share Wiley with Nelle because she murdered her first fiancÚ, attempted to kill Michael, and is suspected of being Brad's co-conspirator in the switch with Wiley. Oh, and she framed Carly for pushing her down a flight of stairs when Nelle was nine months pregnant with Wiley. Michael has valid concerns about the safety of his son, but what is Nelle's justification for petitioning the judge to remove Wiley from Michael's care?

I haven't heard Martin or Nelle provide one single reason why Wiley shouldn't remain with Michael. Also, let's not forget that Nelle is still fresh out of jail and on probation. Part of the terms of her release was Nelle admitting to her crimes. Serving time for the crimes she was convicted of doesn't automatically entitle her to a second chance, but Nelle doesn't seem to get that because she keeps insisting that she deserves a second chance. The truth is that Nelle needs to earn it through good behavior, which takes a lot longer than a few scant months after being cut loose from the pokey because of good behavior and prison overcrowding.

Had Nelle truly been reformed, she would only be asking the judge to grant her visitation with Wiley. A vindictive person would demand full custody, but a loving mother would understand that she needs to build a relationship with her child, and it would be to her benefit to have the father be a part of that process, since he's the only person that the child knows. If Nelle really wanted what was best for Wiley, she wouldn't be trying to rip him away from Michael and Willow. Instead, she'd be focused on proving herself to Michael for their son's sake.

Also, Julian is a moron for not offering to help take Nelle down from the inside. That's the first thing he should have said to Sonny and Sam when they confronted him. Instead, he's proving to be just a pretty face with a whole lot of space between his ears. That said, I really hated the way that Sam tore into Julian for the umpteenth time. Let's face it, Sam made up her mind to cut Julian out of her life long before she faced him to get his side of things. She wasn't interested in finding out what was really going on, which is a shame, because the fact that Nelle was able to blackmail him into marriage suggests that he's hiding something really, really bad.

For a con woman, Sam sure has pretty lousy instincts and problem-solving skills. I guess that explains why she has such a long rap sheet.

Folks, it's time to talk about Sonny and Mike.

I've been avoiding writing about this topic for months for purely selfish reasons. It's one that hits incredibly close to home because I lost my own dad not too long ago. It was sudden, but not entirely unexpected because my dad had endured years of surgeries and painful rehabilitation as he fought a losing battle with congestive heart failure. We knew that my dad was nearing the end of his journey because he had begun to decline both physically and mentally, especially in the months leading up to his death, but there had been no indication that his death was as imminent as it was.

Much like what Sonny went through with Mike as his father's memories became fewer and farther between, my dad's good days became less and less. The problem is, it is quite easy to convince yourself that there is still more time than not.

Also, like Sonny, my relationship with my father was complicated. Most of my life, we were extremely close, and I'd travel with my children from Ohio to spend summers in Connecticut so that they could get to know their Opa and Oma. However, a series of events strained my relationship with my dad in later years, and in the months before his death, we were not talking. Worse, his last words to me had been hurtful, and I wasn't quick enough to forgive. I know that my dad loved me, and he definitely knew that I loved him, but it's not the same as making peace, and I struggle with that.

Every family has bad stuff, even the best ones. If you're lucky, the bad isn't too bad, but you can never know what your last words to someone are going to be. If the worst should happen, and my last words to my kids are harsh, I would not want them to focus on that because, no matter what happens in life, I love them. That can never change, and I would want them to carry that with them after I'm gone, not some silly argument.

I'm certain that my dad would feel the same way. He was a good man who valued family above all. Born in Bratislava toward the end of WWII, his earliest memories were the stuff of nightmares, but he never let that hold him back from living his fullest life and embracing those he loved. If he'd had a crystal ball and known those would be his last words to me, I have no doubt that our last conversation would have gone differently.

Sonny's relationship with Mike definitely had issues, but the love between father and son was real and strong, even when they each doubted it. I can understand why Sonny isn't ready to say goodbye, even though his brain understands that Mike has reached a point of no return. It's Sonny's heart that is having trouble accepting it, which is why I think it's so touching that Mike's final gift to Sonny is to hang on until his son is ready to let go.

Maurice Benard and Max Gail's poignant performances have hit me hard, especially when Sonny talks about how much reconnecting with Mike has meant to him. There are times that I have to pause or stop my DVR because my own grief overwhelms me. But, once I wipe away the tears and compose myself, I always go back because the story is so moving and beautifully written, and both Maurice and Max have been stellar in each and every scene.

It killed me when a tearful Sonny stepped out of the room, unaware that Mike had broken through the thick fog of forgetfulness for just a moment and had tried to reach for his son's hand. Details like that can be more powerful than words.

On a side note, prior to Mike's recent decline, seeing Max Gail had always put a smile on my face because growing up, Barney Miller was one of my dad's favorite shows. We only had one TV in the house, so whatever my parents put on in the evening was the entertainment for the night. My dad got big a kick out of "Wojo" and his exchanges with Detective Fish, so I have wonderful memories of my dad laughing hysterically while he watched. After a couple of episodes, we were hooked, too.

I've been a fan of Max Gail's ever since, so I wish there had been a way to keep him on the show. However, I appreciate that the story needs to play out this way for Mike because there is no happy ending for Alzheimer's disease -- not yet. If the writers do a time jump, I hope we get to say goodbye to Mike the right way, with Sonny at his bedside, holding his dad's hand as a Yankees game plays on the television.

If the writers skip anything, I want it to be the possibility that Maxie's apparent late period and dizzy spells are a result of her being pregnant. Please, let it be because she's stressed and missed breakfast, because I do not want Maxie tied to Peter for a lifetime through a child. Maxie has paid her dues by losing primary custody of Georgie, losing Nathan before their baby was born, that dreaded Levi Dunkleman disaster, and now being lied to and manipulated by Peter.

Maxie deserves to meet someone wonderful who isn't hiding deep, dark secrets.

I tried to keep an open mind about Peter, even when they threw a memory transplant twist into his maternity, but Peter was dead to me the minute that he arranged for Drew to vanish over the ocean then sent Sam to prison in an attempt to distract Jason from finding out that Peter had been Helena's partner -- not minion -- in the abduction of the twins years earlier.

I'm sorry, but it's downright laughable to suggest that Helena Cassadine ever saw Peter as any kind of equal. At best, Peter was one of Helena's many disposable pawns. That Peter actually thinks Helena viewed him as anything more than that shows what a delusional idiot he is, and it's one more reason that I don't want Maxie to be pregnant with his child.

I hope the writers fix this mess by revealing that Drew is alive, Peter is Alex Marick's son, and Peter has gone into hiding. Let Peter throw his lot in with Jerry Jacks, and together they can periodically return to Port Charles to terrorize the good people into a frenzy of melodrama just in time for Sweeps. Our evil villain ranks have dwindled over the years with the deaths of Helena and most of her flying monkeys, so we need some good recruits. Peter would make a far more interesting villain instead of pretending that he can be a good guy.

Speaking of villains, it's time for Cyrus to meet his fate at a deserted toll booth. Sonny looks weak by letting a sinister drug lord like Cyrus continue to stroll the streets of Port Charles, especially when Sonny's claim to fame is that he doesn't allow drugs to be trafficked through his territory.

Hopefully, the show will hit the ground running with this storyline because the veiled threats and innuendos are getting old. Time for Cyrus to pony up or get the heck out of Dodge.

That goes for Nikolas, too. Spending days ambivalent about whether or not to divorce Ava in order to have a relationship with his son is tedious. This should be a no-brainer. Go talk to Spencer and let him know what's at stake. If he says, "I don't care about the money," then file for divorce.

Knowing Spencer as I do, he might be satisfied with the gesture alone. I love Spencer, but he's an arrogant and entitled young man who would not take too kindly to Ava walking off with his birthright, which includes Wyndemere. Spencer just might surprise Nikolas by suggesting that they work together to boot Ava from the castle. I wouldn't mind seeing that unfold, especially if the writers give us a romantic twist by having Ava sweep both Nikolas and Spencer off their princely feet.

I always enjoyed Ava and Spencer's relationship when they were getting along, and I'm warming to her and Nikolas. In the meantime, Ava's little game to get Nikolas to be unfaithful with Liz would still allow Liz and Franco to explore their own growth as both a couple and as individuals. It's a win-win for everyone (characters and viewers), and Nikolas teaming up with his son to take down Ava would have the added bonus of bringing Spencer home where he belongs.

Until then, ABC intends to give us encore episodes of General Hospital, which made me think about the ones that I would pick if I had an opportunity to make some selections of my favorites. In no particular order, here are the five classic episodes that I'd love to see air during the show's hiatus.

May 16, 1994: Bobbie and Tony Jones learn that their daughter was fatally injured in a school bus crash. After seeing B.J., they make the heartbreaking decision to donate her heart to save Maxie Jones's life

Ask any GH fan what single episode/event stands out in their mind, and B.J.'s tragic death will be in the top three, if not at the very top of the list. I am no exception. This episode aired long before most of us ever heard of spoilers, much less a search engine called Google, so we were blindsided when they killed off B.J.

I vividly recall getting home from work, slipping into some comfy clothes, then rewinding my VCR so I could watch GH until my hubby got home from work. I tuned in, anxious to see what would happen to poor Maxie, certain that they would never kill off Felicia and Frisco's child. 45 minutes later, my husband found me sobbing because B.J. had been killed, and her parents had donated her heart to save little Maxie. He was horrified -- until he realized that I was talking about GH and not a co-worker or neighbor's child.

That was the night my husband learned just how seriously I take my soap operas -- and to never, ever laugh when the stories bring me to tears.

Warning: If they do air this episode, be sure to grab lots of tissues and some aspirin for the headache that is sure to follow your crying jag because the scenes are an emotional gut-punch that lingers long after the episode ends. A PSA by Shell Kelper (Nurse Amy Vining) is included, so get ready to see some beloved faces from the past, including Dr. Steve Hardy, Brenda Barrett, and Lois Cerullo.

November 29, 1995: Stone Cates succumbs to AIDS in Robin Scorpio's arms

This episode is about more than love and death. It's a catalyst for decades of storytelling because of a daring risk by the writers.

Back in 1987, on All My Children, Stuart Chandler married a woman named Cindy, who died from complications of AIDS. It was the very first time that I recall a soap opera addressing the deadly virus sweeping the globe. However, it very much remained a taboo topic, especially on daytime serials, until GH decided to tackle the topic and take it one step further by making a popular main character HIV-positive. Robin Scorpio, the daughter of two wildly popular characters, grew up before our eyes, and Stone Cates was her first love.

Unfortunately, Stone had become infected with HIV during a previous relationship, but he had no idea until he got the flu. He decided to get tested, but Stone's initial test had been negative. Thinking he was safe, Robin and Stone eventually had unprotected sex. Stone soon learned the truth, and his decline was swift and brutal, but if ever an episode captured what Robin and Stone meant to each other, it's this one.

Many were affected by Stone's tragic death, but none more so than Robin. The writing for this episode was incredible, and the performances by Kimberly McCullough and Michael Sutton were flawless. Romeo and Juliet had nothing on Stone and Robin.

November 16 and 17, 1981: Elizabeth Taylor guest-stars as Helena Cassadine and curses Luke and Laura Spencer on their wedding day

Once upon a time, a beautiful Oscar-winning movie star fell in love with a soap opera and let it be known that she would like to appear opposite her favorite new character, Luke Spencer. The powers that be wisely jumped at the opportunity and created a special character just for her. That was the birth of Helena Cassadine -- and the movie star was the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor. Yes, the Elizabeth Taylor!

I know that I listed two episodes for this selection, but that's because I consider them a package deal -- a 90-minute movie, if you will. They should be viewed together, but don't worry, they don't drag out because they are awesome episodes.

The other claim to fame for this pair of episodes is that one of them is the highest-rated episode in soap opera history because it's the wedding of supercouple Luke Spencer and Laura Webber. That means that on top of great performances, surprise guest appearances, and lots of suspenseful moments, there are also stunning costumes including a spectacular wedding dress!

This is Gloria Monty at her finest, and two must-see episodes for any GH aficionado.

December 28, 1995: A.J. Quartermaine drives drunk and crashes into a tree with his brother Jason riding shotgun

There are turning points then there are moments that usher in a new era. This episode is both because this one single development was the foundation for the Sonny/Jason bromance that is entering its 25th year.

This episode is essentially the birth of the show's mob action. But for A.J. driving into that tree, Jason Morgan would never have emerged from the ashes of the Quartermaine gold child Jason Quartermaine's life. That means Sonny wouldn't have had his superhero enforcer at his side when Sonny's enemies came calling. Likely, Sonny would have been gunned down long ago, Carly would have lost custody of Michael to A.J., and a good portion of the characters on the show today would not exist.

February 11, 1983: Susan Moore is murdered

As a kid, I moved around. A lot. I was born in New York, but my parents were young, and they loved to travel, so we lived in Europe for a time before returning to the United States to bounce around. Reading became my solace when I landed in a new place and hadn't had the chance to make new friends. I was especially drawn to mysteries, so by the time I was twelve I had read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book ever written.

It's my love for mysteries that made this episode stand out because I happened to watch it while I was home sick from school.

It had everything from a beautiful victim (Susan Moore) and her missing child (baby Jason Quartermaine) to a plethora of suspects (practically the entire cast).

The episode is chock-full of suspenseful writing and the kind of great soap opera characters that made GH one of the titans of daytime. Get ready for Demi Moore as Jackie Templeton, and police commissioner Robert Scorpio on the hunt for clues. Oh, and the colorful Quartermaines are at their squabbling best.

Spoiler alert!!
Jason was recovered unharmed, and Susan's killer was later revealed to be Crane Tolliver.

Random observations

Did anyone else catch The Story of Soaps on ABC? If not, watch it. Not only was it a wonderful look at the history of soap operas, but it was a reminder that All My Children and One Life to Live were so much better than any of the shows that have since replaced them. I would love for ABC to bring at least one of the shows back. Talk shows might be cheaper to produce, but it's not what daytime viewers want to watch. If it were, then the replacements wouldn't need to be continually re-invented.

I've never been to court for a custody hearing, but is it normal for a judge to take that many breaks during a hearing? It seems to me that the process would go a whole lot faster if the judge didn't call for a recess after each person testifies.

How in the world does Nina get anything done at Crimson when everyone is constantly leaving the office?

Reader feedback

I thought it was pretty funny that Monica is okay with her son's killer (Sonny) being in her house but freaking out because one of Alan's long ago exes (Lucy) was performing the ceremony. -- Eileen

I have always had a very low opinion of Julian's intellect but, if he allows Nelle to get him under her thumb for rigging Brad's brakes after the police couldn't find any evidence of foul play, Julian is even dumber than I thought. All he has to do is deny it, deny that Brook Lynn said anything of the kind (and she'd back him up to help Michael), and tell Nelle to stay away from him or he'll tell the judge what Nelle tried to pull. I think it would be so much more interesting if Nelle then blackmailed Valentin into marrying her. All the same people would be affected but as a bonus Nina's head would spin like Linda Blair's in The Exorcist, especially if she finds out that Nelle has the necklace. -- Daffy Sez

We have not seen Harmony since she told Jordan that Cyrus wanted her to get him out of prison. Is she ever coming back, or did the writers just drop her storyline and hope no one [would] notice or care? She may be a minor character, but I actually like Harmony since she left Shiloh and DOD. -- Maci Robin

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment below. Take care and happy viewing,
Liz Masters

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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