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TV Squad Soap Report: Why I'm loving SOAPNet's Night Shift

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 12th 2008 3:00PM
TVS logoThere was no surprise when SoapNet announced that it would be broadcasting another season of the late night spinoff of General Hospital Night Shift. The premiere season was a ratings blockbuster for the cable channel, a big hit with fans and well-received by the critics.

What was surprising was news that a new head writer, Sri Rao, would be taking over from Bob Guza, Jr., and that two major players from GH's history -- Tristan Rogers and Antonio Sabato, Jr. -- would be starring in this go-round.

I enjoyed Night Shift, year one, so I was inclined to check it out. I'm thrilled to report that after three episodes, I'm loving Night Shift 2008! Here's five reasons why:

1) Snappy storytelling
It's brisk and focused overall, and there have been some smart changes enacted by Sri Rao from the start. Last season, the SoapNet episodes seemed to be out of sync with the daytime General Hospital activities. It was out of whack and very disconcerting. How could Spinelli be shot in the foot in Night Shift and unharmed in GH daytime. It made no sense. That's not the case so far. Robin and Patrick's daytime stories are connected to the Night Shift stories.

2) Vibrant new characters
This summer's batch are better than those introduced last season. Azita Ghanizada as Dr. Saira Batra is refreshing with her holistic medicine ideas and spunky attitude. And in a really interesting move, Dr. Leo Julian is now being played by Ethan Rains, taking over for his look-alike brother, Dominic Rains. Guess what? Ethan's better. He may look like Robert Hegyes -- Welcome Back, Kotter's Juan Epstein -- but he's a dynamic actor. Leo and Saira make a hot couple -- fiery and combative. I'm also enjoying the Will & Grace couple, Kyle and Claire -- and how refreshing to have a gay character introduced without any fanfare or bother. He's just part of the story.

3) New and improved production
The look is classy and richer. Maybe they just slapped on a new coat of paint or bought some new furniture, but everything is popping. Robin and Patrick's apartment has a lived-in look, not like the typical showroom vibe you see on a lot of shows. Also, there's a new main hospital set which a friend suggested to me might be a carry-over from Port Charles. Whatever, it makes a statement. It says that this is a floor of General Hospital you're not seeing in daytime.

4) Medical staff only
I was concerned about the star power for Night Shift because unlike the first season, Jason (Steve Burton) and Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) would not be doing double-duty. They were sticking with GH and not appearing in Night Shift. They were both a big part of last season's episodes, even though they had to find a way to insert them into hospital plots.

Fortunately, they haven't been missed. The characters from daytime that are appearing regularly are all medical staff, including Epiphany and Robin and Patrick. They're a strong link to the mother show, and they belong in the hospital.

5) Star power
It's nice that Billy Dee Williams is back in a Special Guest Star role, picking up the Toussant storyline from last summer. However, the longtime GH fans are especially psyched by the return of Antonio Sabato, Jr. as Jagger Cates. So far, he's been underused in my opinion. He's on the edges of the plots. I'm waiting for him to get some action.

On the other hand, Tristan Rogers has made a smashing return as Robert Scorpio, WSB spy and errant father to Robin. His scenes last week were brilliant and he picked up the character like no time has passed (he did return briefly about a year ago for a short time, too). Anyway, now, because of a brain injury, he was confused and thought Kyle was Luke Spencer. As he started spouting off lines about Sean Donely and the WSB and Faison, it was like a flashback to GH when Gloria Monty was running the show. Then he learned that Robin is pregnant, right before the revelation that he has a serious medical condition. It's been great stuff and I can't wait to see what happens next.

So, overall, everything about the new Night Shift feels like a step forward. It's like they took the advice once ascribed to the golden age of MGM Studios -- "do it big, do it right and give it class." Last season was a great start; this season, it's even better.

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I love this show and Tristan Rogers is so dayum hot! He has been missed and I am definitely looking forward to his performances on GH: NS.

August 27 2008 at 10:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm really liking GH:NS this year. I didn't care for it much last year. Maybe it's because it's so much better by comparison to the mother ship, which is sinking from a slow leak by the name of Guza. It's also so nice to have a break from the mob and to see storylines about the hospital and medicine for a change!

If I were GH I'd grab the writer for GH:NS and replace Guza who has all but destroyed my beloved GH.

I do have to agree with the other posters that the new Leo is arrogant and annoying. I liked the cool, laid-back Leo much better.

August 13 2008 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On Esposide 3. At the beginning of eposide 3 Robin and Patrick were picking out names for their daughter. Last night Patrick alluded to wanting to spend the rest of his life with Robin which elludes to the proposal that is happen on GH soon. I think if anything that NS2 might be a little head of GH. Though the stories for Robin and Patrick are syncing on both shows, but GH might be a little behind.

August 13 2008 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't like this new Leo. The other Leo was nicer, but still had a bit of an edge to him. This guy just can't act very well. Everything seems forced. Same with the Kyle and Claire. Forced and no flow.

While it was out of character for her to do so, it was still cute when Epiphany oogled ASJ. "Where have you been keeping him?" hah. But yet, out of character -she's always pushy pushy get back to work.

There's a lot of grumble that on NS they revealed the sex of the Robin/Patrick's baby, but did not on GH.

Another note, GH is stinky in ratings-land and yet NS is given the better storylines (in regards to Jagger and Robert) aaand the starpower of those two. Just doesn't make sense.

Why put the effort into a new show when they should just juice up the main show?

August 12 2008 at 8:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jennifer's comment

On GH today I heard Robin and Patrick talking about the sex of their baby. I don't recall hearing it on Night Shift last week though.

August 12 2008 at 10:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have found the new season to be bothersome at best. The new Leo is a dick. There is nothing edgy, he is just a mean spirited guy. He isn't better unless scene chewing is considered great acting. As for him and the holistic doctor, I had to turn away the kiss made me ill.

And didn't Toussant DIE last year. Wasn't the entire last episode his funeral? I am glad they aren't as disconnected with GH as last year, but now they are more disconnected with themselves.

I was hoping for better. Not that last year was great and the sets are nicer. I do like the Will and Grace couple (less bickering would be nice).

August 12 2008 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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