Saved! GH escapes cancellation and heads in a bold, new direction

For the Week of April 16, 2012
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GH Two Scoops: Saved! GH escapes cancellation
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Fans got a shocking surprise this week when General Hospital was renewed for another year. After ABC's other two soaps, All My Children and One Life to Live, were cancelled last year and replaced with talk shows, fans were convinced that General Hospital would be the next to go. But behind-the-scenes changes, a return of veterans, and an influx of new characters seem to be steering the soap in a new direction.

Raise your glasses, soap fans. Or two, if you subscribe to the Luke Spencer school of drinking. We finally have something to celebrate. Our beloved General Hospital will live on for at least another year!

What's that? You can't believe it either? After we said goodbye to As the World Turns, Guiding Light, All My Children, and One Life to Live recently, the writing seemed to be on the wall for GH, too. But surprisingly, ABC decided to cancel the daytime talk show, The Revolution, instead. Please take a moment to squeal with delight. I did. Or if you're so inclined, write a nice letter to ABC to thank them for regaining their sanity and keeping the daytime drama legacy alive.

We've seen a lot of changes on GH in the past year, both behind-the-scenes and on-screen. Some were good. Others, not so much. Old faces, balanced writing, and an influx of new characters have given the show spark that it hasn't had in years. I have to admit, this new direction is gutsy, and I'm loving it, the way Tracy loves her carrot cake.

Veterans, come on down!

The first bold move -- and the most noticeable for fans -- has been a return of familiar faces. I'm hostile that most of the returns seemed to be temporary for Robin's funeral. (Yes, I'm talking about Robert and Noah.) But, I'm trying to enjoy those vets that got to stay in town. At least Anna Devane is sticking around. And best of all, crazy town's Heather Webber is back. (Keep reading for my thoughts on Dr. Steve's entertaining mama drama.) I've seen more veterans on-screen lately than I have in a decade. And boy, can they suck me in. Watching Anna, Luke, Tracy, and Heather dine at Kelly's was sheer delight. We also saw Monica tossing out one-liners, like only she can. Not only that, Tracy and Luke finally shared some decent screen time and had a meaningful conversation about why she married Anthony all those months ago. It's about time! We even got a mention of Ned, Dillon, Ruby, and Rose. Ah, memories!

I know this isn't 1980 or 1990, and there has to be new blood on soaps, not just vets. But it seems, in part at least, that the new regime understands that the veteran characters are like family to soap viewers, and we actually do want to watch actors over the age of 40. My advice to those in charge is to keep it coming. Letting Robert leave was a huge mistake. Fix it now, before Y&R signs Tristan Rogers permanently. I'm not sure who Robert has more chemistry with -- Luke or Anna. Yes, Anna and Luke are a hoot, but I really don't want to see them romantically involved. Luke is just too good with Tracy, and Anna and Robert will always be combustible. Plus, Anna seems to have some interesting chemistry and history with this John McBain character.

While we're talking veterans, I'm making a plea here to bring back one more: Scott Baldwin. The reasons are simple. He's hilarious, and this show could use some levity. Plus, his daughter Serena would make a great potential match for Michael. Sorry, but I do not want Michael romantically paired with Starr. I don't see any chemistry there, and it's killing me to watch them mourn together. Michael has had enough loss and sadness. This kid needs to have some fun. And I don't see that happening with a woman who just lost a baby and a boyfriend.

Storyline balance and humor

In every column I've written in the past two years, giving my opinion on how to fix General Hospital, the main theme has been storyline balance and the lack thereof. Many fans are sick of mob storylines dominating at the expense of all others. They're also sick of core families becoming all but extinct, only being paraded out during a holiday dinner or a funeral.

Thankfully, this week was robust with balance. The Quartermaines were not celebrating Tracy's birthday, despite her wishes. Maxie was dealing with her confession repercussions. Jason and Sam watched their baby on an ultrasound. Heather was stalking Luke. Anna was mourning and walking down memory lane with John. Michael and Starr were bonding. Sonny was on trial. Liz and the hot doc were on a date. Carly, Johnny, and Joss were bonding. Dante and Lulu were working. We also saw Patrick, Matt, Spinelli, Alexis, and both Connie and Kate. So many characters in just five short days was a beautiful thing!

Another big change I noticed this week: humor. Could GH be coming out of the darkness? I can only hope. One of my, and your, biggest complaints the past decade has been the gloomy mood of the show. This week proved to be a turning point. (Yes, Starr is screeching daily about the death of her family, and Sam is shaken that Franco could have fathered her child, but most everyone else was cracking wise.) There was so much humor, my Best Lines of the Week section was full. I couldn't even include all the one-liners that had me chuckling. That's a first. Keep up the good work! Let's hope these big changes equal big ratings.

Heather Webber

Welcome home, Heather! She is like the female Anthony Zacchara. She's flying her freak flag with no shame. She's also managed to do the impossible: make Steve interesting. I don't know who looks more freaked out -- Steve or Luke -- while Heather frolics around town, telling everyone about the LSD trip that led her to the "nuthouse." Priceless!

I couldn't help but cackle as she tried to entice the more-and-more annoying Olivia into drinking her tea. Is it wrong that I want Olivia to be Heather's first victim? I know. I'm bad. But, Olivia has become so grating the past few months. I just want someone to shut her up.

I also never thought I'd see the day when anyone rattled Luke Spencer. But, obsessed Heather has done it. His reaction to his new stalker was hilarious. Heather has only been in town a couple days, but she's already managed to threaten Sam, too. Heather is an entertaining villain on every level, with so much show history. Plus, I love how she keeps calling her son "Steven Lars," before snidely correcting it to "Steve." Bravo!


Do I need to start worrying about my Johnny? It seems so. Olivia asked Sonny for help to stop Johnny from blackmailing Steve. So, that doesn't bode well for the future of my favorite piano-playing mobster. Plus, the simple fact that Johnny is suddenly putting the screws to Steve for some ominous list is a departure from the sensitive guy I've come to love.

Please, writers, don't assassinate this character. Remember when he was with Lulu and wanted no part of the mob? Johnny Z is a nice guy. Please don't make him an unredeemable villain.

I'm sure I'm going to get some heat for this, so let me get my fire suit. Okay. I can't help it, but I found the one quick scene with Jason and Elizabeth this week more entertaining than all their scenes with other people. Those two just have chemistry. I also loved their scene on the bridge recently, discussing Jake's death. Can you believe it's been a year?

After Luke's trip to rehab, I pondered whether Luke would be as entertaining without his ubiquitous drink in his hand. The answer is a resounding yes! He's livelier and better than ever. His sense of humor is still intact, too. Giving Tracy that riding crop was classic! And he's still anointing friends with nicknames. (Anna will now forever be "Slim!")

Speaking of humor, I know Kate and Connie's personality storyline is heavy drama, but when Ewen was trying to pull Kate back, it struck me as funny. And I loved the inside joke of Kate reading the book from the Llanview characters who apparently also suffered the same disorder. I think it was a nod to viewers, who had complained that they'd already seen this storyline, twice before, on One Life to Live.

So, is it just me, or does it look like Ewen may turn out to be a Jacks? He was asking lots of questions, and seemed strangely interested in Jax, during his lunch with Elizabeth. If it will get Jasper back to town, I'm all for it. I hate how he hid from Sonny. It was so unlike his character.

The award for best testimony under oath easily goes to Tracy Quartermaine. When asked, she told the court that she wouldn't have minded if Sonny had murdered her husband, Anthony, when Sonny angrily stormed into her home. But, then she admitted it would have been too big of a mess for her housekeeper to clean. Priceless!

Best Lines of the Week

(Reading the paper, Monica tells mobster Anthony that Sonny's trial will begin tomorrow.)
Anthony: "I hope that son-of- a-bitch gets the chair for trying to kill me. It's what he deserves."
Monica: "Or a medal."

(Mental patient Heather Webber unexpectedly drops in on her previous obsession, Luke Spencer.)
Luke: (surprised) "How did you get out of Ferncliff?"
Heather: "I walked out the front door."
Luke: "Really?" After clubbing the nurse with a floor lamp or strangling her with a bed sheet?"

(Cop John tries to get in to see Sonny, but is interrogated by bodyguard Max.)
John: "I've had dates that haven't lasted this long."

(Tracy is expecting her family and her housekeeper to remember her birthday.)
Tracy: "Doesn't anybody have anything to say to me?"
Alice: "Oh, your toilet's clogged."
Monica: "The gardener quit because of you."
Tracy: "Well, thanks for that, but a simple 'happy birthday' would have sufficed."
(Later, Tracy inquires as to whether anyone called to wish her happy birthday.)
Monica: "Oh, I forget, yes, you did get a call. Are you interested in lowering your car Insurance rate?"

(Olivia arrives at Steve's door, announcing, "It's me" only to find his mother there.)
Heather: "I'm assuming "me" isn't your actual name?"

(Anthony tells wife Tracy that he's hungry.)
Anthony: "A man's gotta eat, and since it's Cook's night off, you can do the honors. I feel like a steak.
Tracy: "In the heart?"

(Jason shows Spinelli the sonogram photo of Sam's baby.)
Spinelli: "There is a strong family resemblance. I think I see some spiky hair!"
Jason: "Those are fingers."
Spinelli: "Well, then he's waving." (Jason shoots Spinelli an unamused look.) "Outgoing, gregarious, clearly didn't get that from his father's DNA."

Reader Spotlight

My theories as to who staged Robin's death got your fingers typing. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of responses. Thanks! Several of you couldn't believe I didn't put Franco on my list. The truth is, I thought that Franco was already involved in two story arcs: Sam's baby and Jason's brother, so I didn't think he'd be involved in another plot. So, I left him off the list. Many of you put on your detective hats and sent in your suspects. What a list! I got everyone from Noah Drake to Alan Quartermaine to Victor Cassadine. Thanks so much for all the incredible feedback and the creative theories. I've shared some of my favorite theories below. FYI: If you send me an email, I do try to respond. So, please make sure I'm in your acceptable email address list on your computer. I had several emails returned to me this week.

  • I think that Dr. Maggie Wurth is behind Robin's kidnapping. I believe that she is either Lisa Niles's sister or some relative, and holds Robin responsible for Lisa's death. When Maggie first came to the show, she had a scrap book with Lisa's pictures and newspaper articles. I thought that was a clue to who she really is. She also seems to have that same crazy fixation with her ex-lover, Steve, that Lisa had with Patrick. That is my theory. -- Marie

  • My theory is that it is Maggie -- Steve's doctor friend and former flame from Memphis. She came on when Lisa Niles was coming out of her coma -- remember the knife-wielding clown? My theory is that Maggie is related to Lisa Niles somehow.... her sister maybe and wants revenge for Lisa Niles. She and Robin didn't hit it off very well either which for me adds fuel to the fire. -- Lisa Neeley

  • It could be Helena. Although her primary enemy is Luke, don't forget Robert is an enemy who helped take the Cassadines down in the Ice Princess story. But it has to be Faison. That's my guess. You cannot rule out Helena though.-Lisa Torante

  • I can't believe you missed the obvious suspect in the Robin disappearance...Franco. He would've done this in the hopes that Jason would torture himself over the fact that she died trying to save his life! -- April

  • Cesar Faison is behind Robin's death plot. Great storyline for us who were big GH fans in past years! -- Patti

  • What if it is Anthony that has her? Or Anthony/Helena together? Patrick ticked off both of them, if I remember right. Anthony would not want a cure for Jason to work. And why did Helena just vanish? That was just a little too odd. There was no neat resolution of that story. Anthony has also made sure that Sonny could be killed by Todd, keeping his own hands clean. Anthony/Helena together would be a lethal combo. - Judith Kean

  • I have to say that I am shocked that two weeks in a row there was no mention of the anniversary of Jake's death in your column or about the scenes with Jason and Elizabeth. I grew up watching Elizabeth, and she is by far my favorite character (flaws and all.) I am so extremely happy that Liz is getting involved with Ewen and that they aren't rushing into a relationship. As long as she is away from Jason and the mob I will be happy. They are toxic. I just want my girl Liz and her kids happy. --Cheri

  • Thanks for your review of the OLTL transfers. I am with you 100%. I didn't watch OLTL, but I'm enjoying John McBain and, especially, Todd Manning. I'm apparently in the minority, but I loathe Sonny Corinthos. I think he's a bully, a thug, and a hypocrite. He talks about how he'll do anything for his family, but he won't let [them] live their own lives. He's already shot one child and almost blown up another... His feelings were hurt when Michael wouldn't vow that he believed Sonny didn't kill Starr's family. Perhaps Michael was remembering hearing Sonny swear to Alexis, Carly and Kristina that he wasn't responsible for almost blowing up Kristina, all the while knowing Sonny was lying. It's probably too much to hope, but no one would be happier than me to see Todd succeed in his goal of "making Sonny pay." -- Sohara
Jennifer Biller
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