March 18, 2004
HOOOOOO-WAH, Soap Fans!! Let's gas up this drop top and drive it around the town at top speed and let the other sites look at us in abject jealousy for our free-spirited fun, shall we?
Due to homey crap and overall apathy over the soaps (how can you possibly relate to them on any meaningful entertainment level when the drama in your life surpasses the drama on the shows?), I've pretty much been on hiatus from soap writing. I still do the OLTL spoiler commentary, but Sherry has kindly offered to take over the GH commentary for a while and a couple of weeks ago, I managed to eek out an AMC column. This has given me the perspective of distance, although I have been watching the shows during that time.
I've had a great deal of frustration with GH for quite some time, beginning I think with how the show progressed after the recasting of Jonathan Jackson with Jacob Young and really culminating with the decimating of the characters of Rick Webber and Stefan Cassadine. It wasn't that Jacob Young was so bad or anything (that's a whole other column), it was more that when Lucky came back, he was absolutely nothing LIKE Lucky. When Luke told Laura, "You'll hardly recognize him," he wasn't kidding. He hasn't been like Lucky more than a couple of times since then. I'm all for an actor "making the part their own" (although I hate that phrase because it really does mean "changing the character forever"), I feel it should happen gradually over a gentle period of time rather than forcing me to wish the actor would wear a name tag for a good, solid 2-3 months while I acclimate to the new casting. So naw, I haven't been really personally invested in GH lately because I had the feeling it wasn't really MY GH anyway. It's someone else's doppelganger of what GH used to be. FauxGH. If it was a Marvel Comics edition of GH, it would be the GH with the 5 o'clock shadow: the Evil GH. Bill & Ted speak? The Evil Robot GH's.
I've been so sold on the idea that what I'm seeing on screen isn't MY OLTL and isn't MY GH (I haven't been watching AMC long enough to formulate a "MY AMC") that it was casting a very dim and quite long shadow (not even a 5'o'clock one) on my enjoyment of the shows.
In the time 14 days AH (After Hiatus), I have found a new perspective. In looking at all of the things about my shows that aren't MY things, I was surprised to find how many things really are very similar to the old school episodes! Let's play a bit, shall we?
2004 Meets 1980
There's nothing more soapy than a good old fashioned baby switchin! Follow this:
Paul hurries to the cabin where he finds Babe in big time labor. He delivers her baby, a boy, then calls Kelly and tells her that he's found a baby for her. Paul keeps Babe's baby at the cabin, then puts Babe, Bianca and baby Miranda into a helicopter. He then stages a helicopter crash, gives Kelly Babe's son and tells Babe her son died. (nice) Later, he panics and complicates matters further by saying that the Bianca's baby is really Babe's baby and that Bianca's baby is the one who died.
Stealing babies for siblings also happened 24 years ago on OLTL when both Jenny Vernon, Llanview's Pollyanna and Katrina Karr, Llanview's resident hooker, delivered babies at the same time. Jenny's sister, Karen Wolek and her partner in crime, Marco Dane, snuck into the hospital nursery to see Karen's niece, Mary (hospitals had no security back then either, another similarity). To her shock, she saw that Mary wasn't breathing! Thinking fast, she and Marco switched name cards on the baby, so Katrina was told that it was her baby who died and Jenny went on to raise NuMary as her own. Katrina found out when Mary was older and Jenny was forced to tearfully part with her "daughter" when Katrina claimed custody years later.
2004 Meets 1993 - 1998
A friendship that rides out a slow burn to romance may be in short supply in these Jennifer Rappaport/Samantha McCall Dionysian, instant gratification, race for the sheets days of promiscuity, but it's not quite dead yet. Twice Mac and Felicia spent more time denying their growing attraction than enjoying it, first after she lost her memory and even was dead with a funeral, then later after taking a case together that required that they pose as an engaged couple. Both were afraid to tell the other their true feelings until they were actually at the altar, when Felicia turned to announce the ruse to their assembled friends, Mac interrupted her with a real proposal, to when she enthusiastically said, "Yes, yes, yes!" They left the church married after all. Ironically, the person who caused the end of their marriage was none other than Luke Spencer, who is the current day slow burn to romance leading man. Skye and Luke are dancing around their feelings, both afraid for their own reasons to push forward, but like Mac and Felicia, both are intrigued and drawn in to the other with mutual admiration and a good bit of vulnerability.
2004 meets 1978
Georgie and Dillon are also working from a very old school soap pattern. In fact, it's almost identical to the Bobbie-Scotty-Laura story from 25 years ago. The only real difference is that back then, there was no Tracy to encourage things along. Bobbie (Jackie Zeman was fresh off of playing the ill-fated Lana McLean on OLTL) was in love with Scotty, who was in love with Laura, who was coming off of an affair with David Hamilton, who was actually in love with Laura's mother, Lesley. When Laura learned the truth, David taunted her with it and she promptly killed him by shoving him so hard he whacked his head and died. Scotty wanted to move forward with Laura, but she was still weirded out by the whole David Hamilton thing and was pretty much stringing him along. Bobbie, however, was more than happy to put out and Scott decided putting out was a good thing. Laura was mortified and Bobbie took every opportunity to put her sexuality with Scotty in Laura's face (ew). When Laura and Scotty finally were together, Bobbie pulled the pregnancy card, even going so far as to switch lab samples with a pregnant woman to get a positive test result. Sound familiar? Who says these guys can't pull off old school soap opera stuff?
2004 meets 1982
Lindsay Rappaport is scorching up the sheets, the walls and the bathrooms with her daughter's ex, Rex Balsom, but it's not the first time that blonde mamas and daughters have shared a hot young guy! When Tad returned to Pine Valley in the form of Michael E. Knight, "Tad the Cad" was ON and armed for bear. He first set his sights on uber-bitch, Liza Colby. Even though Liza was recovering from a crush on Greg Nelson, who was in love with Tad's sister, Jenny, the two began a relationship. Tad worked at the Glamorama, the beauty parlor owned and operated by his biological mom, Opal. Marian Colby, Liza's hard drinking, man-hungry mother was a customer of the Glamorama and was determined to have the hottie shampoo boy. It didn't take long for Tad to give into Marian's advances and soon he was romancing both, complete with comical scenes of Liza nearly catching the two together and Marian jamming Tad into closets. Ultimately, Liza caught the two of them together and left town. Tad then dumped Marian.
Don't worry about Liza, though. She could give Babe Chandler some advice on brotherly love since she had a very romantic hook up with Jake Martin (Tad's adopted brother) when she came back to town. The difference there was that the "who's the daddy" story that followed had a high tech edge. Liza thought she was being artificially inseminated with Jake's sperm to create baby Colby, only to later find that Adam Chandler switched Jake's sperm sample with his own and was Colby's biological father.
2004 meets past years
Gloria Marsh and Tad Martin brought "The Cutting Edge" to OLTL when Rachel Gannon was recovering from drug addiction. Adam Chandler came to Llanview to comfort adopted daughter, Skye, when she learned he was not her biological father. Myrtle and Rae traveled back and forth when they learned of their mother-daughter connection. Cesar Faison, super villain of GH, showed up on Loving. Marco Dane came to Port Charles as a boxing manager after leaving Llanview. These are just a sliver of the crossovers from the past that broke through the glass walls that separate the shows. Since all three take places in New England, it makes sense that as famous as some of our characters are in their homestead teacups, it would stand to reason they would be known to one another. The mention of Pine Valley on OLTL or Llanview on GH isn't new by any means, but it still comes as a bit of a shocker sometimes when it happens. It was, of course, expected to occur far more than it did between GH and PC and almost became a joke that the two towns of Port Charles were so different from one another. Since mobsters ran one and vampires ran another, it seems like they really aren't that different after all.
Now, we are besieged by crossovers as a weekly occurrences, with the ultimate connection, the merging of AMC and OLTL into one show for the episodes that air on March 23rd. Some say it's to test out the long held idea of permanently merging the two show, but regardless, like Linda Dano's rather boring meandering through all four (at that time) ABC soaps, it's definitely ground breaking, but cross-overs as a rule? Nah, they've been around forever.
a generation ago
It's driving me crazy that so many of the characters *I* grew up with have been relegated to back burner status and only seen for funerals, weddings, etc. (Erica and Viki, however, are forever). I've been in a huff about it for a good, long time and still, I think that the way GH in particular treats its vets. I did have to stop and consider... a generation. In soaps, that has to be something like 20 years, SORAS'ing and all. I was thinking about GH in the 80's and how it was suddenly dominated by Monica, Alan, Luke, Laura, Robert, Holly, Sean, Tiffany while Jessie, Lee, Gail, Steve, Audrey and those who highlighted the stories of the 60's and 70's just faded away to the background. On OLTL, Wanda was running that diner forever after Vinnie died and no one hardly noticed her at all. Dr Larry didn't just disappear one day, he faaaaded away a little at a time. Yes, I do believe they should use the veterans on ABC soaps much more often. Let's see some stories on menopause, on late life career change, on grandparenting, on sex after 40, on retirement, on impotence! Let's see some characters gracefully embracing their age instead of taking weeks off to go to the plastic surgeon to eternally be 35! The kids who cut their teeth on soaps are now in mid-life and we need to see our peers represented somewhere. When the characters who are our age are pushed aside in favor of the new young set exclusively, doesn't that tell us that WE don't have value? No wonder we're pissed off. The writers are such short sighted cowards to not level the playing field a bit. Is it really so hard to have a teen story, a gen X story and a mid-life story working in tandem? Cowards. We are the new Palmers, Wandas and Gail Baldwins. Mortality looms.
Interestingly enough, when I was looking for Jessie, I found this:
*moment of silence*
Not at all on the topic of current stories that mirror old stories, but I just have to say that those pregnant tummies were the sweetest things I've seen on the soaps in ages. Everybody together say, "Awwwww."
I'll be around again soon!