Daytime Diva:

The View From the
Recliner's Edge

By Belinda Ache



November 23, 2007


What a sweeps mess! General Hospital 

You ever hear that country song called “Did I Shave My Legs for this?”? That’s sort of what I’m feeling as this November sweeps creeps to a climax. "Creeps" meaning crawl, slink, and skulk, (sneak) not "creeps" meaning spooky, scary as in “creeps me out”.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things that I like about the Black and White Ball, but in the same way that One Life to Live is the current embodiment of how to do a soap right, General Hospital can be our example of how to mess one up. Where General Hospital is famous for “stunt” sweeps that include triumphant returning veteran actors in legacy roles (that are traditionally and unceremoniously ignored after the ratings they generate are raked in), catastrophes of the year, and more coherent and original writing than they can be bothered with for the rest of the year they have really fallen short of the mark this time. 

I don’t want to be harsh. No, I REALLY mean that. I do not want to be harsh, but I am afraid I am going to have to be. What in the Sam Hell were they smoking in the writer’s room when they came up with this idea? It’s not the idea of the formal ball in the gothic mansion. In fact; it isn’t the whole gothic feeling of the event that is unfortunate. I love the dark and stormy night, the cavernous, maze like mansion, the tuxedos and gowns are all very well done. It’s the oddly paced, erratic movement of the storylines that is grating. 

Kudosfor the menacing air hanging over the proceedings and bravo to Bruce Weitz for choosing to jump off in to the part and take it to the wall. I love his over-the-top commitment to playing Anthony Zacharra as totally, bat-shit, nut-so; complete with bulging eyes and inappropriate bursts of maniacal laughter. I also have to comment on the performances of the cast who all seem to have reached way down and come up with a way to play the inane story as written with some (varying) kind of commitment to bringing their A-game. Some more than others but then that’s always the case. 

As much as I like the gothic feeling of the menacing old mansion, I was continuingly distracted by the parade of rooms which seemed to have no common entry or hallway system to connect them. It’s just WRONG to have Luke suffering a heart attack in the entry foyer, which logically should be right outside of the more familiar “study”, the ballroom and the parlor where they stitched up Ric. Not to mention that they decked the Quartermaine foyer up in black and taffeta and passed it off as the Wyndemere entrance. I’m sorry, but the Bacchanalia (back in the day) was done SO MUCH BETTER. Couldn’t they try to reproduce those rooms on some small scale? Man!  

Well, I might as well break it off. What’s wrong with General Hospital sweeps this time? Let me tell you. It stinks! Here’s why I think so: it’s the isolated vignettes going on supposedly inside the larger venue of the Black and White Ball. They are jarringly out of place. There are no coherent juxtapositions. No rhyme, no reason. It’s all slapped together like a bunch of Attention Deficit Disordered third graders were given free reign.  

Starting off with Sonny and Kate finding the secluded privacy within the throngs of guests to not only make love but to declare their love for each other, continuing to the stables, the caverns, the different rooms where strange groupings of visitors (and I do mean STRANGE) have harshly disjointed scenes playing out. The only connection that most of them have is the company that is running willy-nilly about the halls hunting or being hunted. It’s like a much less entertaining version of the slapstick comedy routine where The Monkees scurry in and out of the many doors along a common hall. 

Let me be clear, the individual scenarios are not bad. Taken independently of the over all premise there have been some very satisfying scenes. Jason eliminating the ongoing torture of the WTD story was welcome, late; but not badly done. I heard the collective “SQUEEE” that arose from around the world as the patient and adoring “Liason” fans went positively squishy with joy as Liz and Jason took a moment to declare their love to each other. “Lusam” fans have gotten a few short but intense vignettes to satisfy their craving for Sam and Lucky to form a deeper bond, too. Lord knows I am not sure how I feel about that just yet. 

Traditionally, I’m a Lucky fan. I loved Jonathan Jackson in the role.  I appreciated the eye candy while Jacob Young cut his acting chops in the same and then Greg Vaughan took it and made it his own. I don’t appreciate that they decided some where along the line that Lucky would be the new sad sack on the show. AJ and Zander certainly left the position as whipping boy on General Hospital well paved and worn smooth! I’d love to see Lucky be more self assured. I envision him as Luke’s Cowboy, with the swagger and braggadocio that Anthony Geary has used to advantage to endear us to Luke for 25 years. 

Undoubtedly, Greg Vaughan could bring it. Lucky needs some of his father’s smooth. Lucky doesn’t need any of his father’s vices however and that is where they could make him distinctly his own person. This character has got to show some growth in the mental department though because dumb hunks have short soap lives and I want Lucky to be around General Hospital for a good long time to come. I am tired of his being the resident dumb ass, nevertheless. 

Also LONG over due were those fan pleasing Tracy and Luke moments both before and after he had a heart attack. I love these two. They have a mature relationship and it felt f-i-n-e to have them bonding. I am hoping that this doesn’t devolve in to a mother hen verses stubborn alpha male who makes a terrible patient vignette. It would be a waste. What I’d like to see is Luke maturing, stepping into a patriarchal role on the canvas. He doesn’t have to be the Peter Pan man that I was starting to dislike with Skye, the perpetual con man. He’s married to Tracy-freaking-Quartermaine and those two would be kick ass, hands on, new age core soap family royalty. 

Spinelli! Wow Spinelli has stepped up to the bar or should I say to the gun? He seriously bashed Lulu’s grape when she was going to run off into danger. That was great! (Except that she took off afterward anyway)  I’d wanted to pistol whip her since she went completely “Carly Mini-Me”. WHY… and I ask this of myself A lot! WHY are they turning Lulu into Carly 2.0? Nadine, I agree with you TO THE MAX. Lulu’s turning this pseudo-blood bath into being “about her” is ludicrous. Lulu and Carly running all over Spoon Island was pointless. I never bought into a split second of the Jacks brothers going “Johnny Quest”. They could have left Carly and both men out of this sweeps and it would not have detracted from the story AT ALL. I’m beginning to feel the same way about Mini Carly. 

Then there was Ric being skewered to the wall. From the moment he was discovered and Alexis let out that impressive scream queen shriek (was that Nancy lee Grahn or a stunt screamer?) it was like the show was broken up into mini episodes featuring each different location and set of characters. ZaCrazy and Maxie (I loved her and Lucky’s very touching moment. Despite that tragic adultery last year I still think these two have sparks. Hate me, sorry.) ZaCrazy, as he is called on the TV Fan Online forum, (too funny) had some weird, comical and even poignant moments. His one liners about women, the eerie gardening conversations, his seemingly vast personal knowledge of Wyndemere and his uncanny knowledge about these people (who are, after all, strangers to him) were… interesting. Is it foreshadowing? Can I trust TPTB to even bother to try to toss some foreshadowing? I just don’t know. I do know that this NEEDS to be the start of some back story epiphanies or it is going to just be BAD for the sake of shitty story telling. 

Georgie… oh, don’t even get me started! I’ll save my Georgie rant for next week along with some hopefully coherent commentary on the very near surprise death of Emily. I’m going to get in to the SAVE THE QUARTERMAINES discussion in this column next week, so stop back by for that. I’d rather point out for right now that Scott Baldwin was an odd choice to have on the island when Monica was not. Did anyone even bother to say she was on duty or had an emergency or anything? I love Scott, don’t get me wrong.  His being at the Ball gave it some added pizzazz, but if this was done solely so that he could goad Luke forever about his saving Luke’s life it could very well get stagnant—FAST. I get Logan’s presence. His purpose is to sniff after Lulu, after all. Regardless it was WRONG that Monica was not at this event. That is all.  

The point is it felt weird. All of it, from the beginning and I can’t imagine how Emily’s murder could bring it all back together. It is a jumbled, hackneyed, clichéd M. E. Double S.  Patrick and Robin and Leyla in varying combinations running off to have private chit chats in the halls where a barking mad, viscous killer is skulking about: unusual. So, they got to settle things between them at a time like that? It’s peculiar. And Alexis having an appendicitis attack was just over kill, what was up? All the little side stories and romances were bizarre. It was cool Alexis and Ric bonded since I’m a huge Rexis fan yet it was strange how Skye and Alexis bonded. What was the purpose? You know they aren’t ever going to be friends.  It was jagged! On a whole it left me feeling curiously deflated. I can’t believe I was so looking forward to this only a few weeks back! 

If this could have tied these disparaging stories together, merged them in some gratifying way, I would probably be singing it from the rafters. Instead, I’m shaking my head and I’m wondering (as ladies so often do) “So, is that all there is?” 



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