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TV Squad Soap Report: General Hospital gets graded

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 10th 2008 3:21PM
logoIt's report card time. From time to time, the TV Squad Soap Report will take a look at a show and grade it accordingly. This week, we'll look at General Hospital -- you know, sort of take its temperature. To put it bluntly, General Hospital needs some intensive care. The show is suffering from post-dramatic stress disorder, not traumatic, dramatic. I'm speaking specifically of the shooting of Michael Corinthos, Jr.

Intellectually and from a writer's point of view, I understand why Robert Guza, Jr. -- the head writer -- decided to do this story. It's caused a major upheaval in the Jason-Carly-Sonny-Jax quadrangle. The situation he created, for those who haven't been watching, is this: Sonny's new love, Kate, urged Sonny to bring Michael to the coffee warehouse so he could see the legitimate side of his father's business interests and presumably be impressed enough to want to emulate him. Sonny had been worried that Michael was on the path to becoming a mini-mobster.

Sonny had reason to be concerned when Michael bought a gun on the street (to protect his mother and brother) but wound up accidentally shooting and nearly killing Kate. But the trip to the warehouse turned tragic when an assassin with a high-powered rifle shot at Sonny. The bullet missed him, but the ricochet got Michael in the head. After emergency surgery, Michael was declared in a permanent coma. He will probably never wake up and if he does, he'll be severely brain damaged.

The ripple effect of Michael's living death has been profound. Carly's marriage to Jax is on the rocks because of her refusal to stay away from Jason and Sonny's mob life. Sonny has renounced his legal rights to Morgan and Michael because Carly believes that's how he can best protect them. Alexis wants him to do the same for Kristina. Jason has been forced to buy out Sonny's interest in all the syndicate businesses so that Sonny can try to extricate himself from criminal activities. In doing what Sonny wants, Jason has had to distance himself even more from his son, Jake, and his love, Elizabeth.

Guza's pulling the strings and he's created a mess of dramatic spaghetti. All the strands are entangled and pulling even one inevitable yanks another. Is there a way out of this web? Presumably, the headwriter knows where he's going, but right now I'm feeling strangled. I'm not happy with Sonny out of the mob. I think the appeal of the whole Godfather affectation is that Maurice Bernard is great as Michael "Sonny" Corinthos. Yes, he plays the romantic stuff great, but I enjoy the mob machinations, too. I want to see him and Jason discussing strategy and what moves to make. The current angst is too much like Godfather 3, the weakest of Coppolla's Godfather films. That's the one where Al Pacino says, "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in." Well, I want to pull Sonny back in.

I'm worried that Guza has written Jason into a corner. There's more to Jason than just being the muscle guy (although I loved it when he set Zacchara's mansion up in flames). What's missing in Jason's life is family; he needs to find a way to make a life with Elizabeth and Jake and Cameron. Jason is not an automaton and every time the writers give him a chance to get in touch with his feelings, the story improves. Jason acting as a referee between Sonny and Carly is played out and overdone. Knock it off, Guza.

Now, Carly, what a shrew she's become. My fear is that the writers have lost balance with her character. Of course she should be bereft about Michael's plight. I expect the tears and Carly's self-destructive nature when facing a tragedy. However, having her and Sonny make love in the back of the limousine after leaving Michael in a long-term facility in New York City was not only wrong-headed, it was in bad taste. Passion, even born of anger and intense grief, was out of place in my opinion. I would have respected Carly more if she had pushed Sonny away and spit at him -- or vice versa. Of course, the point of the hot romp was strictly plot driven. Carly's now going to get pregnant and not know if it's Jax or Sonny's child. Too soapy, Bob. You could have done better.

As much as I'm down on the way Jason, Sonny and Carly are being written, I'm just as upset with Jax. This is a character who has always been a joy to watch. He's fun. He's ridiculously rich, like Cary Grant in That Touch of Mink (with Doris Day). It okay to give him drama to play, but don't make him humdrum. Sadly, that's the case right now. Jax needs to assert himself. Let him buy out the Quartermaines or re-structure the hospital or do something bold and extravagant that changes the lives of other characters. That's Jax. These days he's looking too domesticated and meek for my taste.

Looking around as the rest of the show, there's little to be dancing in joy about. Spinelli is chasing the girls with little luck. Maxie is chasing Johnny because Lulu has him. The Zaccharas talk and talk and talk. Injecting Ric into their shenanigans has so far yielded nothing but more talk. That fling he had a while back was clearly a product of the Writers Strike. So was the ridiculous Ian Devlin character. Remember Ian, he was introduced as a brilliant plastic surgeon and friend of Patrick's. He had switched to oncology because his wife had died of cancer. Before you could say, get me a scalpel, stat, Ian was revealed to be a dealer in untested, experimental drugs. Then he was working with Jerry. Then he was an assassin with links to the Zaccharas. Finally, he was the shooter who aimed at Sonny and got Michael instead. He proceeded to blackmail Kate for $1 million, which made no sense because Nikolas had been giving him millions for the experimental drugs to treat his tumor. Rather than explain any of that, GH simply killed off Dr. Devlin. They are still severing all ties to his storylines.

On the plus side -- yes, there is one -- I do enjoy the Nikolas-Claudia connection. That's one to watch. There's hoping that Robin and Patrick will lay off the silly web games and get back to fighting about couches. Oh, yes, there's also the baby on the way. Anna should be back, too, which is always a positive. And I'm still waiting to find out Spinelli's background. Rumors were once out there that he would turn out to be related to Sonny. That would be a hoot!

As for Michael, I've been watching soaps too many years not to see his exit as anything other than a way to get rid of a kid actor -- as much as they adored him -- so that within a year they can age him with a new performer. I'm predicting an 18-year-old Michael will emerge from the coma. And in the ultimate twist of fate, what if Michael comes to and has the same brain damage Jason has. Remember, Jason was in a car accident. He was with his brother, A.J. Quartermaine, who was drunk. Jason nearly died. When he recovered, he'd suffered a severe brain injury. He didn't remember his life as a Quartermaine. Didn't want to be a doctor anymore. He went to work for Sonny as his enforcer because he had no qualms about shooting people. Imagine Sonny and Jason and Carly's reaction if Michael woke up like that! (Remember, you read it here first!)

So, all things considered, I'm going to treat GH with tough love and give it a C+. This is a show that has done better and will do better in the future. Bob, Jill (executive producer) Farren Phelps, come on. Make me turn that C+ into an A really soon.

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I agree with the TV Squad about everything - and that's never happened before. I cannot stand Laura Wright's portrayal of Carly. Not only is she a shrew and selfish, it seems as the though the actress manipulated herself into a relationship with Jax and it deballed the Sonny character. I like him with Kate, but great love stories are what make the soaps. There is no great love story to tune into on this show. A boring marriage with Carly and Jax. A boring relationship with Sonny and Kate. A boring Sam with Lucky. A boring Liz with Jason. A stupid and boring Alexis with Jerry. Hot Ric is left out of everything. Stupid relationships like Spinelli with anyone and a boring Lulu and Johnny.
Now, Claudia with Nikolas - how interesting! Their scenes were intimate and revealing and without the sex - better than all the other couples combined.
At least when Sonny was with Carly (before Laura Wright) it was hot and passionate and emotional. Now Carly just manipulates Jason and Jax and screams at Sonny and blames him for everything.
Are they grooming Lulu to be another Carly - yipes - disgusting.
I adore Maxie. She has grown into something else!
Where is the love story that we can connect with?

June 30 2008 at 11:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can take ghosts. I can take new characters who suddenly make no sense and are killed off. I can take soapy pregnancies. What I cannot take is Liz and Jason. I had to tune out.

June 11 2008 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to admit...Im getting so tired of the Sonny/Carly story...theyre off again..on again...it's getting old. Every once in awhile, I will watch a few episodes. I usually take turns between GH and OLTL. Right now...looks like OLTL is my #1 show right now.

June 11 2008 at 8:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stopped. Watching.

Once Emily died and started walking around by Nicholas's side, it was over for me.

My other breaking points:

Lucky and Sam's affair. The writers could have really kicked up the intensity, but failed by ending the secretive plot-line too quickly.

First Carly comes back as new character - meh. Kate - snore. Rick - boring. Jerry - ugly. Zaccharas - who?

June 11 2008 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What is really unfortunate is that all anyone has to grade the show on is the same 3 characters (Jason/Sonny/Carly) storylines - and it's been this way for a handful of years. They touch a little bit on the other characters of the show (but careful not to have more than 3 people on the screen at once - oh no, heaven forbid.) It almost makes me miss the freakin' decade they spent on Alan's drug addiction.

If Guza & Co. continue the path of.. well destruction, General Hospital, once a groundbreaking soap opera, will be destroyed. They have much more material to go on with Jason - hell, bring back the WSB and get Jason involved! He wants to turn good but still 'live on the edge' -- that's how it used to be done. Sonny has nowhere to go. They should have one final storyline and he gets sent to prison. MB might be the moneymaker right now for GH - but with some great writing, they could easily let the show shine for others.

Being a fan of GH is similar to being a fan of the Raiders, I say. Every year you think "That's it! If they [do this/don't do that] then I'm done with them!" and yet... you return each day/season thinking "OK maybe this time, but this is their LAST chance!" And so it goes.. year after year...

June 10 2008 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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