Daytime Diva:

The View From the
Recliner's Edge

By Belinda Ache



December 3, 2007
“Trying to Focus” - OLTL and AMC

Even though I intended to talk about General Hospital’s crusade to kill of The Quartermaines in this column I am going to have to put it off briefly. I’m just not ready. I am not now nor have I ever really been a big Emily fan and those of you who have read me from my humble beginnings know that I loathed her and Nicholas together. I called them NUM because they bored me to numbness and trust me that was one of the nicer things I have said over the years. I’m trying to wrangle my scattered thoughts down to a manageable level so that I can bring them to you but it is not easy.  It follows in the GH section below.

So, what I’m trying to do first is focus in on All My Children and try to decide how I feel about what’s going on there. Really, I am trying hard to focus but there is so very little to zero in on on All My Children that it makes concentrating extremely difficult. Or maybe there is so very much going on that it makes narrowing the field of vision impossible? We have JR; dirty, disheveled, drunken and apparently an obvious red herring in the disappearance of Zack and Greenlee. We have those two suffering competing emergencies in their hidey hole where (and your going to kill me) I couldn’t tell which male it was who concealed them! I read it was Ritchie but it looked more like Jonathan to me!

Also going on: Jackson breaking up with Erica, Kendall bringing Ian home, various holiday sequences starring Ryan and Annie, Krystal and Adam and oh! My! Gosh! Was that Myrtle and Mrs. Martin? It’s been so long I can’t remember her name! A nice, refreshing touch; dragging the mostly invisible former stars of daytime out for a few seconds holiday montage, I thought. For a moment… just one split second… did anyone else have a flash of the kind of show we could have if they used these cherished legacy characters to (I don’t know) maybe ANCHOR down the seemingly untethered program?

Boy, I did. For one brief instant I thought about what All My Children would be like if they took a page out of One Life to Live’s book and decided to bring the program back to its roots. I’ve been gone a really long time (from watching All My Children regularly) so I am not even sure it could still be done. Are there enough veteran characters and actors left to bring the story back around to its center, its heart and soul?

Who would that be at this point? Could it even be done? Aren’t too many of the core families destroyed for that to even be feasible? How many Martin’s are left, Courtland’s, Cane’s, Chandler’s? How many families are completely decimated and could not even be reintroduced?

I’ve asked that question on the TV Fan Online Forums  and I hope to feature some of the discussions here in the coming weeks. It is not a rhetorical question, folks, at all, so please let me know if you have any solid ideas on the subject by posting there or sending me an email. I would really like to know. So far we have FIRE BRIAN FRONZ as the best course of action but BESIDES changing all the behind the scenes personnel and hiring people who love soaps to write them, what would do it?

It’s finally safe to say it; the great soap experiment undertaken across the board at ABC where they chose “stars” of the shows and revolved the programs around a few select people has failed. They have miserably, horribly, completely and utterly F.A.I.L.E.D. They forced Sonny, Carly, Jason and Courtney on us at General Hospital, McBain, Natalie, Blair and Todd at One Life to Live and according to the message boards: Kendall, Zach, Ryan, Annie and Greenlee were the unfortunate chosen ones for All My Children. All these characters were adored by the fans until they became the entire focus of the programs. Not only have the series suffered what may be irreparable damage but the characters have all lost esteem with the fans; except for some of the most zealous of all fan-atics, of course.

There is no doubt that One Life to Live has figured it out. The only question remains is if they will continue the trend? The ratings have yet to reflect the turnabout that One Life to Live has made but it is not possible that they will not. Not unless the entire ratings system is broken, some how outdated or otherwise no longer symbolic of the state of the line up, anyway! I hesitate to say that OL can keep to its current course. This is no doubt due to the massive disappointments the ABC fans have been treated to in the last several years. What I hope is that OL will continue to focus on its core families, rely on its veteran performers interspersed with those in TPTB’s sacred demographic and maintain the glowing momentum that this fall has brought us.

To that end I really hope that they step up to the plate. They have to keep up the diversification of the cast and the next step would be to expand the storylines and participation of Talia, Layla, Victor and Shawn while continuing to feature Viki, Dorian, David, Clint, Nora, Bo and Lindsey. There are others on the cast whose parts could be enlarged, enriched and enhanced to contribute to the overall complexity of the tapestry of the show: Roxy, Renee and Nigel all have an immense potential to add vast depth to the proceedings however they go. Where is Carlotta? She falls into their age group as well. She almost had a romance with Clint once and was involved with Nora’s ex husband, Hank.

As I watch Nathanial Marston’s last portrayals of Michael McBain before the recast I can’t help but send up a silent prayer that the McBains, like The Saybrooks and The Mannings will not rise up and take over the show and become, once again, the characters that EAT One Life to Live. The key word seems to be “balance”. Balance those teen stories with the vet stories with those in the precious, coveted demographic; Christian, Antonio, Jess, Nash, Natalie, Sarah, Jarred, (who is already getting on my last freaking nerve) Talia, Layla, Victor and Shawn. It’s not going to be long before there is going to have to be some new direction for that golden group, at least if One Life to Live wants to continue on its merry journey of renewal.

We can’t very well have Nash or Jess involved in yet another triangle, can we? In fact; it would be a really great treat if there were some other kind of romantic entanglement explored for a change. I love that OL has put together a couple of color and though I’m not sure what the politically correct way to word the whole thing might be it’s just refreshing to see. Victor and Layla seriously need a storyline now, though; or they are going to be in danger of falling in to that dreaded and over populated daytime category: tokens. Now that Talia has admitted her crush on Antonio and ended her pretend interest in Shawn I worry that his part will dwindle away until him, Victor and Layla are no more than contrasting skin tones in the background of crowd scenes.  It shouldn’t be that way, as recently as this summer rumors were rampant there was going to be some very heavy storylines pulling these characters more firmly into the middle of the action on One Life to Live. I only hope that those stories weren’t sacrificed for us to have our beloved veterans and the core families featured again!

Are Dorian and Viki going to compete for yet another man? Are brothers going to share yet another woman (if Clint and Nora get together)? 

We are about to have (apparently) a slightly disturbing, quasi incestuous, forbidden romance between Jarred and Natalie, it seems, as Jarred pretends to be her uncle. (Gross) If that is supposed to be titillating the only thing I can say is that it probably WAS… the first time they pulled it off with David and Tina! About the best that I can say is that I am enjoying One Life to Live now and I am cautiously optimistic not only for this shows future but for the future of all ABC shows based on the revitalization of One Life to Live. 

Well, I’ll leave you now with a link to Daytime Confidential Save The Quartermaines Campaign  because it is a cause very near and dear to my heart, which you can read below.

Save The Quartermaines


You’re not going to hear a long sermon from me about the tragedy of Emily’s death. I could barely stand her since she became an adult. I’m not two faced enough to spout off rapturous praise of the dearly departed. Nor do I want to get in on the exciting speculation about what Emily is now that she is undead or what this might lead to. I have a feeling that will be addressed much better than I could do it and probably sooner rather than later. No. I want to talk to you about the imminent demise of the Quartermaine Family.  To quote Daytime Confidential: (picture courtesy of DC) 

AJ was snuffed out by a pillow during sweeps in 2005. Justice was killed off, crammed in a car trunk and then didn't even receive an on screen funeral at the end of sweeps in 2006. Then Ned Ashton, his ex wife Lois Cerillo, and daughter Brooklyn (all important members of the Q family) were written off the show. In February of 2007, during sweeps, TPTB killed off Alan Quartermaine with a heart attack. In September of 2007 they wrote Dillon Q off the canvas. Later that fall during November sweeps they killed off Emily Q, rather than recasting her.  Fan uproar "saved" Alan and TPTB brought him back as a ghost to haunt Tracy Q but even with Alan still on screen TPTB did nothing for the 30th Anniversary of Alan and Monica this fall. Adding insult to injury, TPTB didn't even have Edward or Monica make an appearance at the naming of a foundation in Alan's memory during the 2007 sweeps that they used to kill off his daughter Emily.”

Preach it brother wheeze! I don’t know how “saved” Alan has been in view of the fact that it’s been months since his spirit has appeared as Tracy’s conscience but I am firmly in support of bringing this sequence of events to a halt. Monica, Tracy and Edward are the only Quartermaines left. Something has got to be done to save this core family and it has to be done FAST.

Is there a point to decimating the clan? To what advantage are they being removed from the canvas? Does it enhance the show at all? Does it move forward any plot? Create growth or development for the three characters left on the canvas? Not at this point, it does not. So I have to wonder why TPTB at ABC are taking this road. If it is unintentional then it needs to be brought to their attention. If it is intentional then they need to stop and think about what the hell they are doing. Lay down the crack pipe, get off the bong, put up the scripts, ok?

HOW will losing one of the core families improve General Hospital? Anyone?

**crickets chirping**

That’s what I thought. I have been so consumed by this concern that I am practically useless trying to comment on the aftermath of The Lip Gloss Princess’s death. I see Edward’s reaction to the news—and thanks whoever decided it wasn’t needed to show Skye telling Edward his favorite grandchild is dead, why! Who needed that kind of drama and history on a soap opera anyway, huh?—and am under whelmed. Not by the performance but by the lack of one being required. Why do I get the feeling that this is only a small step from saying good bye to Justus in an off screen memorial? Wouldn’t it have been more realistic if EQ would have broken down? I’ve seen him more upset over chef’s refusal to serve a meal late!

What we got was terrific but it just didn’t seem proportional to the monumental loss this should have been. Sure we got a two day memorial service (and wasn’t it nice to see that country chapel set revived again? Snort.) But seeing as how this is the death knell for a prominent family that has anchored General Hospital for over 25 years… well I’m just thinking there should have been more thought and emotion, that’s all.

Leslie Charleson is really bringing the understated emotion. It’s like she is in so much pain she has gone numb which is ironic considering that is exactly the reaction I had to 90% of Nic and Emily’s romance. It is like she is in shock and that seems appropriate. I was beyond touched by the brief nod to history of Lesley Webber’s reaching out to Monica as I was by Tracy’s tearful apology for not treating Emily well. They were strong, emotional moments that I appreciated very much. A nod to the long term fans, no doubt to shut us the hell up about history.

This just can not be all to prop a lame strangler story, to lead to more violence and criminal centric fodder? And to tell us with a straight face that this is going to be the greatest love story of all time is like trying to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge. Excuse me, the greatest love story of all time? From the people who brought us destiny couples like Sonny “I shot my wife in the head while she was giving birth to my child” Corinthos and Carly “I don’t want you but no other woman can have you” Jacks and Jason “my brother never had a woman I couldn’t bag” Morgan and Kick Ass Courtney with the kung fu grip?

Oh, please! I have no confidence in TPTB to know a love story if it bit them in the ass. Magic love dreams and cathartic orange juice taught me one thing: we can’t trust General Hospital PTB to know romantic from asthmatic. They both involve gasping for air, after all, don’t they? (That’s a slam back on the way Emily use to snort for air and gasp all those slurpy sounds during her love scenes—EW!) These are the same people who thought they could start a “fairy tale” romance with a back door adulterous affair that caused the death of Emily’s first, first true love: Zander Smith. Or was that her second, first true love?

Whatever; you can not build a world class love story on the corpse of a cock-holed lover. Then there was the Courtney affair that spawned Spencer and (EW—gagging) VictEm’s distasteful dalliance with Sonny. There is just no way to make this the greatest love story ever told. Sure I remember that Luke and Laura began behind Scott’s back, but except for the rape that was not actually much of an “affair”. The sex was basically limited to one rape and one night stand until after she was divorced— Luke and Laura are and always will be the EXCEPTION that proved the rule--just saying.

I have to admit that I got great satisfaction from Sonny telling Kate the straight up deal. He was too old for Emily and they never should have been together. Also out standing in the aftermath of Emily’s death is Monica telling Sonny that her family’s destruction can be laid soundly at his door. Right on, Monica. Your family would be intact if Sonny had not given in to his passions and bedded Jason’s woman Carly on a carpet of broken glass. That one misguided libidinous act has caused the annihilation of The Quartermaine family. 

I wish that I could believe that these admissions on Sonny’s part were an admission on the writers and behind the scenes personnel as well. I said this in my All My Children and One Life to Live piece a few days ago, the idea that they could revolve the soaps around a few people (and everyone else had to lose to these characters) was not a good one. One Life to Live has been moving away from that premise and really working on balancing the canvas. The fans have noticed. All My Children is just insisting on continuing the monopolization of the screen by a select few. The fans have noticed. General Hospital is at a point where they have seen that interest in hospital based storylines are strong enough to carry an entire prime time series. (Well 13 episodes anyway) They have shown some sound progress in diversifying they just haven’t copped to the fact that the veteran characters and core families are the key. The fans have noticed.

Make no mistake: the fans are noticing! Around the net, people are outraged by the violence and mindless worship of criminality that has been General Hospital’s forte since 1991 and which culminated in the death of Emily. I read an article today by a man I’d never heard of before (sorry), Jack Myers- Ed Martin’s Watercooler TV, who said in this article about Monica: “I didn't think the current GH writers had it in them to give so powerful a scene to a character in whom they have shown so little interest for so long a time. For this, I applaud them. I hope they will continue to take advantage of this new (or, rather, reborn) Monica. She's like a mad hornet, ready to attack anyone who crosses her. As she rises from the ruins of her family I'd like to see the writers once again make her a powerful central figure and involve her in a significant new romance. Maybe it's time for her first husband, Jeff Webber (father of current beleaguered heroine Elizabeth), to return to Port Charles and rekindle their relationship. Or, wouldn't it be a kick if she began dating Sonny's father Mike, who is not involved with the underworld in any way? Heck, I'd be happy to see her go to dinner with Trevor Lansing, another enemy of Sonny's. 

Salem2005 at TV Fan Online Forums writes: “You know, it's really these small moments that I live for and the reason I still watch GH… When we get a great scene with historic characters actually interacting and talking about the past. That scene rocked! The Vets are so talented on this show...I just don't get why they won't use them more. Yes, they are older actors...but once again, look at OLTL and how much better that show is now because they use their historic characters like Dorian and Vicki in real storylines. I haven't watched Young and the Restless in a long time, but last time I did, Victor and Nikki and Jack and Jill and all their historic characters were still always front and center. I just don't get what GH has against the older veteran actors....they bring so much talent to the table.” Emphasis on “the reason I still watch” is mine, not Salem's but I don’t think she will mind! There are literally HUNDREDS of fans who still watch only for these moments and I think THAT is a FACT that TPTB NEEDS to recognize. 

Our very on Eye On Soaps' The Gourmez says, “It’s wonderful to see Leslie, Monica, Ned, Dillon, Bobbie, and Mac.  I just wish we could see them more often--say, once a week?  Nah, that would never work; it’d cut into the screen time for Carly when she breaks nail and runs to Jason for comfort.  I loved watching Bobbie console Monica through the loss of a child.  Each woman has had enough tragedy to fill Charles’ port, yet they keep on living.  I want to watch Monica heal and move on and it saddens me that we probably won’t see her again until someone else croaks.” And A Cynic Soaps Up author Kate Brown asks, “GH is having difficulties staying in the top five rated soaps. Will new viewers keep watching when they realize gunfire is an everyday occurrence in Port Charles? Will old viewers stayed tuned in when once again the months between sweeps feel like filler?”

Are “the powers that be” at General Hospital going to get it or are they turning a deliberately blind eye? Sadly enough only time will tell. We have been lulled into thinking that they were going to feature appropriate stories for veteran actors and set them in the hospital before. Such as during the virus sweeps catastrophe, bringing Robert and then Anna back only to ignore and misuse them while they were here. As well as all the spoilers and rumors that turned out to be so much litter box filler, like an anniversary episode for Alan and Monica’s 30 years together, Monica fighting Ford for the Chief of Staff position, Monica getting a younger romantic interest or having a “Kiss Me Goodbye” storyline, Monica getting a moment with ghost Alan… which I feel that was probably that moment at the Q’s when she got a chill and looked like she smelled her fart and was trying to figure out what she ate that could smell like that!

I’ve sent out the message on all my groups asking for their opinion and I’d like to hear from you as well.  I'm looking for commentary about Emily's death, the destruction of the Quartermaines, Monica's powerful reaction and where the fans hope to see the Q's and the show go from here to be used in this Eye On Soaps column in the month of December.   So, send me a note and tell me how you feel, please?

I’m not going to let this go. It means too much to me so I will end by requesting that you write to your favorite actor c/o the studio. Yes, snail mail is required. Support the veteran actors, support building General Hospital back from what must surely be the brink of cancellation. Write.

John Ingle

General Hospital
c/o ABC-TV
4151 Prospect Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90027

Leslie Charleson
General Hospital
c/o ABC-TV
4151 Prospect Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90027

Jane Elliot
General Hospital
c/o ABC-TV
4151 Prospect Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90027

Stuart Damon

General Hospital
c/o ABC-TV
4151 Prospect Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90027

See ya!


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