August 8, 2006

10 Reasons To Come Back to GH

"You're not hard core unless you live hard core
and the legend of the soap was way hard core."

Paraphrasing Dewie Finn from "School of Rock"


Are you a hard core GH fan?

Are you a hard core GH fan who left in dismay?

Come home, sweetheart.

All die hard daytime TV vets go through love-hate relationships with their soaps.  It's like any long-term relationship, really, where there are hills and valleys and long stretches of desert before we get to a wonderful oasis.

Sometimes, those relationships die because we just decide we've had enough abuse, enough disappointment, so we walk away.  Other times, we have so much history invested that we grit our teeth and tough out the bad times.

If you have given up on GH and walked away, I want to give you some good and valid reasons to consider coming back again.  Mind you, like any soap, it's not always roses.  There are still a few turds stinking up this cat box, but overall, I feel considerably more optimistic about upcoming and current storylines than I have in a long, long time.  Let's stick to 10 reasons, although I am quite sure I could come up with plenty more, given more time and more liquor.

1)  Sonny's therapy:  I never, ever thought I would say that, especially as the story first began to unfold.  Now that Emily is safely out of the mix and the real issues in Sonny's life are being addressed (such as "did you notice your mom was a wuss who forced a 6-year-old kid into being a protector instead of having the balls to do it herself?"), it has taken on a whole new angle.  I never thought GH would be bold enough to actually admit that their golden boy character has serious flaws that are not becoming other than an aversion to intact glassware.  Bringing Carly into the story as his safe place to be and the (very appropriate) midwife to birth him through this story is brilliant, especially considering that the writers have be clever enough to not throw her in bed with Sonny to bed to heal any wounds or sugar coat any of the brave and brilliant observations she has shared with him.  They kept her strong and wise and gave Sonny a valuable foothold in finding the baseline of truth in his fall down the rabbit hole. 

Another very strong backing appeared yesterday when Jason rushed straight from the police station to the mob meeting, then immediately acquiesced to the "second in command" role Sonny applied to him when he came into the room.  He allowed his "boss" to stand strong and have his dignity, then was there like a true friend when Sonny emotionally collapsed as soon as he was out the door.  My first thought was, "They're back!"  Overall, I am not a fan of the style of acting Maurice Benard uses, but I do have to say that his portrayal of Sonny as he moves through the progression of therapy, medication and self-reconciliation has been extremely moving.  When he and Carly cried together, I cried right with them and I don't even particularly care for either character.  You know you are in the presence of good acting and good writing when you are emotional over characters for whom you do not normally give the slightest rat's ass.

2)   The Vets:  After the decimation of the character of Rick Webber upon Chris Robinson's return to GH in 2002, I had nothing but dismay over the idea of Kimberly McCullough, Rick Springfield, Tristan Rogers and Finola Hughes returning.  Not so much with KM since the character of Robin stopped appealing to me about a year after Stone's death.  I figured they could not really do anything but improve her standing for me.  The idea of three of my favorites, Noah, Robert and Anna, returning to the hands of the exact same people who destroyed Rick (even though Rick was a character for whom I also had little interest) gave me a fairly sick feeling in my gut.

From the moment Robert Scorpio stepped out of the jungle and the words, "...and so it begins" rolled across the screen, it's allll been good.  Everything has been fabulous from Robert surprising Luke in the hospital to the whole stupid flu story (the vets were the only good part about it!) to the sleeping bag adventures to Robert's banter with Tracy to Anna kicking Robert's ass as soon as she saw him to Anna's shmoozing of Lorenzo to Robert's interaction with LuLu and obviously, I could just go on and on and on.  Of course, there are complaints about Robert and Anna only lurking around the fringe without nearly enough air time and I can easily join them, but what I have seen so far has been just delicious.

My one complaint is the complete lack of interest writers have in the character of Noah.  I am sure there will be opportunity, missed or otherwise, created by the HIV scare Patrick experiences over the next 6 months (can we SORAS that a bit, maybe?).  Still, I would love to see Noah have a love interest and work through his grief and guilt over the death of his wife.  I'd just love to see the man smile because he drops about 15 years and 20 miles of rocky road when he flashes that million dollar smile.

With Anthony Geary returning in mid-September and the news that Genie Francis will be reprising the role of Laura, we can count on a good bit of veteran screen time.  Until I saw what the writers were capable of doing with our treasured veterans, I would have dreaded the return of Laura, knowing it would only further ruin the character for me.  Now, I await it with eager anticipation. 

Knowing that Genie Francis has only committed to a limited return, the mind fairly boggles at the possibilities.  Will it be a "Flowers For Algernon" story where she regains her faculties, only to discover that the effects are temporary or worse, fatal?  Will she go travel with Lesley?  Will she learn that Stefan is alive and leave with him?  The great fear was that she would return only to usher Anthony Geary away from the show; however, he has been very reassuring in recent interviews that he has no intention of leaving.  My thought is much less brutal.  I believe that after a wonderful recovery and return to Port Charles, Laura will be the one to recognize that Luke really does love Tracy and that Tracy loves him in return.  That thought flew into my head as soon as I watched Tracy usher LuLu into her surprise birthday party, showing that Tracy really is family now.  I suspect Laura will ultimately take a job off screen and move on with her life, giving the character the send off she deserved when those idiots trashed her wedding gown and sent her away to London in a wheel chair and straitjacket, tongue lolling and eyes rolling.

I'm good with that.

The vets are glorious and I thank everyone who was instrumental in bringing them back.  Regarding Genie Francis' limited return, however, I would also like to add that Tristan Rogers was originally slated only for a temporary return and if *I* were Genie Francis, I would want to play it close to my vest until I saw what they intended to really do with the character of Laura, if anything.

3)  A Return to Interpersonal Human Drama:  For so long, sweeps and all of the cracks in between have been centered around cataclysmic events, burning hotels, train wrecks, stolen identities, mob wars (I first typed "mom wars" and got quite a chuckle), kidnappings, murders and other unlikely horrors.  Finally, we are smack dab into the middle of a whole lot of interpersonal intrigue and just plain, good soapy stuff! 

EVERYONE is sleeping where they ought not be, starting with LuLu and Dillon and moving on to Dirty Maxie (as she will now forever be referred as by me) and Lucky, Sam and Ric and then Jason and Elizabeth.  It's quite a case of musical beds and it's the material of which classic soap fare is made!  For the longest time, NO ONE on GH seemed to be having sex except for Emily and Sonny, who were humping away like bunnies as birth, death, murder and mayhem erupted around them.  Those two barely missed a stroke. 

Now we have Georgie finding out that LuLu is pregnant while both Alexis AND Jason get an eyeful of Ric and Sam going at it hot and heavy just as Elizabeth finds out that Lucky has been putting it to Dirty Maxie and runs to a seething Jason and just tears that boy's clothes off in a frenzy. 

While all that goes on, not only is Dr Hottie Drake dealing with the possibility of having HIV, but also with the abrupt curtailment of his promiscuous lifestyle, which was a primary factor in how he defined himself and his own worth.  Once a person's sexuality is removed from the barter stone as a way of interacting with others, it absolutely changes what you feel you have to offer the world or individual relationships.  Sad, but true.  For the man who has no interest in a committed relationship, it must be brutally ironic to find that fate has shoved you into a circumstance where the only woman you CAN have sex with on the GH cast is the one who wants that committed relationship with you.

Then there's the intrigue of the Cassadine heir which opens the door to luring Stavros back if he is indeed undead.  Helena has already taken the bait and returned to Port Charles with her odd little henchman, Colleen, in tow.  I keep expecting Nanny Colleen to wave from the parapet, say, "It's all for you, Nikolas!" and leap off to her death.  I love an ordinary looking girl with a good sense of self esteem, but has she seen Emily?  Has she seen photos of Spencer's mother, the Goddess Courtney?  Has she noticed that while she's an attractive woman as real folks go, the whole contracted cast of GH is freaky gorgeous?  I can understand taking a stab at the whole Gorgeous Nikolas thing, but if he doesn't bite, limp your broken ego back into the nursery, break a few sharper image toy soldiers and get over yourself... then skitter gleefully to the bank with that double paycheck from Nikolas and Helena. 

Between the gothic nanny, Helena and wonderful, wonderful Albert (or is it Alfred?), Wyndemere is positively bustling with interesting stuff!

How's THAT for a list of some familial drama moments?

4)  Jax is coming back:  Mind you, I am not a fan of the Jax man.  It all started on his wedding night to Skye and while some love to trot out the whole "Skye knew Brenda was alive" argument, the fact of the matter is that Jax did not know that Skye knew that Brenda was alive when he was dry humping Brenda in midair while Skye waited upstairs in their bridal bed.  Bad, bad form and I have never forgiven him for it.  For me, it really highlighted who he is.

But now, Jax will be returning right when Carly has found her greatest strength.  With this newfound empowerment, I don't imagine she will take kindly to the fact that the left her alone, running off in the night like a coward, leaving her to deal with the fallout from the revelation that she and he hid John's true identity.  I suspect she will be giving him a hard row to hoe when it comes to winning her back.  Again, the writing and the possibilities are sucking me into two characters I don't even like.

5)  As always, the help:  GH never fails to find the most marvelous talent to play the incidental characters who add so much to our viewing pleasure.  Big Alice, the aforementioned Nanny Colleen, Alfred and especially Max are just marvelous at understated comedy as a brilliant support team.

6)  The nod to history:  Not only is GH working hard to honor the return of our veteran actors, but they also seem determined to demonstrate that they really do know that we pay attention to historical detail.  We will forgive a lot in regard to historical rewrite, SORASing and such, but it's always so lovely when they throw us a bone.  It happens a lot lately and in fact, I'm watching it on screen right now.  Just like before, Elizabeth is at Kelly's and hears from someone she doesn't really like that Lucky is cheating on her.  Just like before, she eases her way upstairs to be confronted by the truth.  This time, instead of her wretched sister, Dirty Sarah, it was her wretched long term friend, Dirty Maxie who was wrapped around her man.  Last time, she slapped the snot out of Lucky, then tore off downstairs, ran smack into Jason who was entering Kelly's at the time, grabbed him by the leather and hauled him to his place where they almost consummated that long burning lust.  But no, Jason stopped her from an act that he felt she would later regret.

This time... not so much.  It has come full circle.  These incidents of honoring the past, even subtly, have been cropping up all over the place lately.

7)  John Ingle is back as Edward:  I love David Vickers and it was tremendously exciting for me to see Tuc Watkins not only reprise the role, but reclaim his ex-wife, Dorian.  As much as I savored that return on OLTL, it in no way compared to my tears of joy the first time John Ingle came flustering into the Quartermaine living room, ranting about this or that, after his stint on DOOL as Mickey.  All seemed right with the world again.

8)  Strong women:  I mentioned Carly finding her strength, but really, she is one of many.  While GH has been heatedly criticized (by me as well) for being misogynistic to the extreme, as of late, they really seem to be taking steps to show the female characters as independent, viable people in their own right. 

Robin, who has always ridden the line between "strong" and "obstinate," still teeters back and forth, but she holds her own against the junior Dr Drake, who values his reputation as a hottie.  She has been there for him throughout his HIV scare as a source of support rather than being high and mighty about it.

Anna could not be considered weak or ineffectual by any reasonable brain, I don't think.

Sam pulled up her backbone after sulking around behind Jason for weeks and finally told him that she needed her life back and was moving on.  She went on to take her GED test and accepted a job of great responsibility for the first time in her life.  Sure, she had self-doubts and crumbled a couple of times, but overall, she made strides to change her life in a positive way.

Alexis, although misguided, has thrown herself not only into the demanding job of District Attorney, but also the role of mother of three daughters, all with different challenges.  A few years back, we could not imagine Alexis being a mother to anyone, much less a toddler, a young child and an adult.  This comes in addition to the unlikely role of wife, from which she literally fled not too long ago.  Now, she stands on the brink of having both the wife and mother role bite her in the ass hard and it will be interesting to see how she handles it on top of whatever health crisis has revealed itself.

Elizabeth has remained the primary breadwinner for her family while nursing her husband through a life-threatening energy and right into a marriage-threatening affair.  Never let it be said that Elizabeth doesn't know how to react to such a degradation.  Grab the hottest guy on the show and finally get us that shirtless shot!

With Tracy, Helena, LuLu and even Big Alice on the map, we are given plenty of examples of strong women who know what they want and are not afraid to go after it.

9)  Skye is coming back!:  Yes, I have enjoyed what I have seen of Skye so far, but what makes me most excited about her return is that even though Robin Christopher delivered her new baby last month, Skye will still be pregnant upon her return.  That gives me hope that we will FINALLY get to see a good old soapy birth scene.  Forget about a train crashing or someone falling down the stairs.  Let me see Skye and Lorenzo trapped somewhere together, necessitating that he deliver the baby (as long a Sonny doesn't barge in and shoot Skye in the sex brain).  Let me see Lorenzo cussing traffic as he hurries Skye to the hospital, barking at her to "Blow!  Don't push!" while she yells at him that if she'd blown, she wouldn't be in this mess right now.  We haven't had a good birth scene in ages.

10)  If you don't watch GH, you won't know what we're talking about in our columns!  We miss you!  Come back!

Lastly... thanks to Carol Banks Weber of Soap Zone for her kind wishes in this week's column for our 6th birthday here at EOS.