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Six things that keep me tuning in to General Hospital

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 1st 2008 11:00AM
GH LogoToday, April 1st, is General Hospital's anniversary -- 45 years on the air. The ABC soap has been very successful through most of that time, although it hasn't really followed the path that many daytime dramas take. In the late 1980's, GH changed from a romance-based, hospital drama to more of a crime/spy/action-oriented soap. It's continued that style, and I can tell you six things that keep me tuning in daily to General Hospital (or checking it out on SoapNet).

1) The Mob - Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) is like Michael Corleone; in fact, his real name is Michael! Sonny rules Port Charles (which may or may not be Buffalo, New York) and his number one enforcer is Jason Morgan (Steve Burton). They're always fighting to protect their territory (currently going up against the Zacchara family) and they've both survived all kinds of assassination attempts. If you're the type of person who watches The Godfather (and The Godfather, Part 2) every time you see it on TV -- like me -- you'll like GH's whole Godfather vibe.

2) Big Events - When other shows do big events, it'll usually be a party or a ball, and GH has had its share of those. However, at least once a year headwriter Bob Guza writes a story in which things blow up (or like they used to say on SCTV, "Blow up real good!") There was a train derailment, a blown-up building, and a pseudo-24 hostage crisis done in real time (16 hours in 16 episodes). This year they used CGI to send a car over a cliff. For daytime action, GH is the show to watch.

3) Interesting Men - On soaps, you sort of expect certain types of heroes and villains. There are at least a few guys on General Hospital that don't fit the mold; they're more interesting. Kin Shriner's Scott Baldwin has always been a complicated mess of a man: funny, troubled, evil and watchable. Jerry Jacks, as played by Sebastian Roche, is a villain that Hitchcock could love -- smart, twisted, erudite. You haven't seen anyone quite like him on daytime. On the other side of the coin, there's the Jackal, a.k.a. Damian Spinelli (Bradford Anderson). He's a cyber-geek with a vocabulary all his own, but if you blink you might think he's an elf or a leprechaun. Like I said, interesting men are found on GH.

4) Remembering the Past - All soaps say they honor their past. Some are better than others when it comes to keeping track of who's on the show now and who's gone and completely forgotten. GH has sinned in some ways, but they're pretty good at remembering that Robin (Kimberly McCullough) is HIV-positive and got it from Stone Cates. Her mother and father -- super spies Robert and Anna Scorpio -- actually come back now and then to visit. The Quartermaine family never forgets matriarch Lila, even though she's been dead for years. And to this day, Laura Spencer (Genie Francis) is an important character. Luke, Lucky and Lulu never let the audience forget that Laura is institutionalized with a mental illness that's incurable.

5) Feisty Women
- There are many great female characters around the dial, and General Hospital seems to specialize in the feisty, fiery hellion. Carly Corinthos Jax (Laura Wright) epitomizes the up-from-the-gutter variation of this type; she's been a bitch-on-wheels and a beloved heroine, often both at the same time. At the other end of the spectrum is Tracey Quartermaine (Jane Eliot). She's a blue-blood who has had every advantage, and she's a real piece of work -- a hard-to-handle woman who is the ultimate ballbuster. A recent addition has also added spice to the females on the canvas: big mama, tough-as-nails nurse Epiphany Johnson (Sonya Eddy), who everyone knows not to mess with.

6) Luke Spencer - Anthony Geary is a great actor...on General Hospital. He may never do another thing in his career to match this iconic character, and even after all these years, he's still damn brilliant at Lucas Lorenzo Spencer. There's a good reason he's won five Emmys as Luke. No matter how inane the plots have been at times, he's always pulled off his part of the story and made viewers care about this man. Any day Geary is on is a day worth watching.

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I am sure that there are people out there who agree with this blog, but the ratings tell a different story. The bulk of the audience has had it with this very dark and violent show. I have been watching GH for nearly 40 years, and it has never been as miserable as it is now. The interesting characters on this show, and there are many, are kept on a back burner while the same few mobsters dominate every story. I can't imagine why this show allows mobsters and hitmen to be the moral center of a daytime soap opera. That vision has turned off most of the audience. Most of the actors are very talented, and they try very hard to keep their characters interesting. However, mob stories that are used to prop the select few are not relevant to the audience or even exciting at this point. The violence even has a numbing effect. I really fell in love with this show during the story of the romance of Luke and Laura. Mobsters were kept in the background (where they belong) in those days. The show was about families and relationships then...not about grabbing territory and being involved in illegal activities. There was even morality!!! As a viewer, I am not moved by the gimmicks of CGI and special effects. I am not amused when beloved legacy characters are killed off for a sweeps event. Although there are characters with potential on this show, the only one that keeps me watching is Tony Geary, and he needs Genie Francis to be at his best. As it is, only Alexis and Diane give me a breath of fresh air on this show. If it continues this way, GH will never reach 50.

April 12 2008 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This a joke right??Remembering the past? ahh please I don't think so if they did they'll remembered that Robert Scorpio loved his family more than anything especially his beloved daughter Robin so there's no way he'll just dropped out of sight without staying in contact with his family or for that matter why can't Robin or Mac called him the writers won't even give us Robin talking to him on the phone..It good Anna dropped in to visit but Robin do have two parent and I'd love to see her dad ..even if Robert is off with his wife Holly he'll still stay stay in touch with HIS FAMILY and Luke too!!

April 12 2008 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dotty Hack

I have enjoyed all the stories that everyone has written. I have watched general hospital since 1980 also. The current theme I don't like at all. I did like Emily and Nicholas very much and that is the reason that I watched these days. I hate it that you killed her, Iam so sick of Jason and the little nurse. very boring as I think she is!!!! Sam is better with Jason. I like Sonny's lawyer,very good actress. The mob story is getting very old!!!!!

April 10 2008 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The show is so misogynistic and spends so much time propping up its "heroic" mobsters Sonny and Jason that it must destroy other great characters in order to make these two look good. What a waste!

GH no longer has any semblance of balance... of excitement (since we know that Sonny and his parasitic coterie of enablers will NEVER lose)... of multifaceted male and female characters... of swoony romance or spine-tingling mystery... It is just mob mob mob all the time. Like an SNL parody of The Godfather.

While it continues to ignore its audience and push unsympathetic and self-righteous characters to the front-burner, its ratings will continue to fall. Simple as that.

April 07 2008 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Um, seriously?! Bob Guza, is that you?! Are we watching the same show?! And the reason that GH is FAILING right now is b/c of the very things you listed-that the mob IS the focus, that they are more about stunts now than substance, that they DON'T remember their history (I'm sorry, Anna Devane would be all about ignoring her daughter and being some damn groupie while pushing her daughter towards an insensitive manwhore? No, I don't think so.), that their idea of a strong woman IS Carly who, imo, is a COMPLETE EMBARASSMENT to all womankind. I just....can't even believe this.

April 07 2008 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not sure what show you're watching, but it's not the current GH. I started watching almost 40 years ago. The GH I knew is not even close to this dark, misogynistic, black hole currently calling itself GH. Since mid-November, 7 women have either been murdered or attacked. The once dominate Quartermaine family is now decimated to 3 people. Any acknowledgement of history on this show is to change it. The bad guys always win, and the good guys are made out to look like baffoons. I question a show who makes its moral center a hired killer. The one thing I will agree with is Tony Geary. He can spin anything into gold, too bad the folks who write this show don't appreciate him as much as they should. These are the reasons GH is no longer on my dvr record list.

April 02 2008 at 10:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been watching GH since '92. I do agree with the some to the people who said that the Mob thing has taken over. It has. For this reason, I took a much needed break from GH to watch Y&R. After getting fustrated with Y&R, I went back to watching GH. I'm glad I did. No matter how crazy the s/l's get, GH was and still is the best written soap on daytime tv today. I must admit that everyday I am hoping to turn on the tv @3pm and get a glimpse of the 'old' Sonny (i.e. the Sonny & Brenda days) *sigh* . It has not happened yet, but I am still waiting and I will still be watching. Congrats GH!!

April 02 2008 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is this an April Fool's Joke? If it is, bravo. If not, then you and I are watching a completely different soap. This show is a shell of it's former self. Mobsters and thier hitmen are *not* romantic or moral heroes. Self-centered, jealous, mean women are not the heroines. And it's sad when the daughter of one of the most famous couples in soap opera history is such a grating, obnoxious brat that I want her off of my screen. I miss the days of romance and family and true emotional resonance.

Now it's simply all mobsters and violence all.the.time. Ugh.

April 02 2008 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with the above posters about the mob storyline being overdone. Sonny NEVER loses a battle. They have had interesting counters to him with the Alcazar brothers, Faith Roscoe, etc. but Sonny always come through. I can't understand in this day and age why a show would put at its core a character who is so verbally abusive and ugly to women, who half the time never uses violence (a wimp mobster) and miraculously gets away with stuff and the other half of the time is totally violent and never pays. Faith Roscoe dies, the Alcazar brothers are killed but Sonny lives on to kill enemies and abuse women. I don't like that Claudia Zaccara is being played as a woman scorned. For once I want someone to take Sonny down and totally destroy him and let's get the mob out of Port Charles and focus on some other actors please. I gave up on this show a long time ago when they couldn't flesh out a storyline for one of the best actors in Soaps (Stephen Nichols) with the most fascinating character on Soaps - Stefan Cassadine. I still think his relationships with Nicholas, Alexis and Helena beat anything or anyone on this show before or since. I don't know how the people writing and creating the show then could still be in the business after the crap they pulled with that character. It was a TOTAL DISGRACE and if they couldn't come up with incredible plots for the most fascinating character and actor on GH then they have no right to be in this business.

April 02 2008 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been a General Hospital fans for over 40 years. One of my earliest memories is of Tom Baldwin raping Audrey. That's when the show was only 30 minutes. Like a fine wine, it has only gotten better with age.
Thanks GH - I just can't cope, without my soap

April 01 2008 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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