HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ABUSIVE TO MICHAEL?
HOSPITAL’s Sonny attends to a counseling session with Carly,
for their son’s benefit and the subject of his uncontrollable anger is
brought up, purposefully.
would never hit a child or a woman.” –Sonny to Dr. Thomas, GH,
The writers finally convey some sense of morals in issuing right and wrong to the characters of GENERAL HOSPITAL – and the primary voice of reason is a corrupt psychiatrist named Dr. Thomas.
Dr. Thomas’s portrayer, Larry Poindexter, even said his days are probably numbered after he goes after mob boss Sonny and Jason, in his quest to win Sam and fulfill his secret agreement with Alan. And God knows what else.
The next plot twist surrounding A.J.’s murder – Michael didn’t do it, but Jason might know who did – took me by surprise, not easy in these days of spoiling as sport. Somehow, some way, Dr. Thomas and these therapy sessions of his with little Michael are related.
Besides surprise, the GH writers have won my interest, especially after a nearly two-week malaise over Reese’s deep, dark, boring secret – She’s Carly! Who cares?! – and that’s no easy feat.
The first few hints were already there, with the deceptively genial presence of Dr. Thomas, a cutie in his own right, IMHO, as well as his common sense approach to fixing Michael by setting his loved ones straight about parenting.
Everything this guy said made sense, and referenced 90 percent of the list of grievances posted by GH soap fans on various message boards since Bob Guza came back as a head writer not so long ago.
Don’t let the child control the parents.
Enabling isn’t love.
A mobster and his hitman don’t make good parental figures.
A child who witnesses violence, in whatever context, cannot help but be scarred by the experience.
Abuse comes in many forms, not always full body contact.
Yes, Sonny, you have abused your wife, your girlfriends, your whores, your henchmen, your pals, and your children. You may not remember the times you raised your voice, grabbed a woman’s arm, shoved and grabbed Faith by the throat, called her a slut, degraded and demeaned her and countless Brenda clones, but many in the audience have.
The July 7 and 8th episodes featuring Sonny (and Carly) meeting with Dr. Thomas should be front page news, THE main story around which the others revolve. It’s as close to the manic-depression story Sonny’s Maurice Benard has been dying for (and I agree such a story is required viewing).
Sonny agreeing to see a therapist, even if it’s for his son’s sake, is a milestone that was treated as low-key and inconsequential as possible, just another road toward showcasing the secret, evil agenda of Dr. Thomas – he’s declared war against Sonny, Jason and Company! – which usually means, time to pay closer attention, maybe write a letter or 17,000 to THE POWERS THAT BE [TPTB] to keep this up.
The second Dr. Thomas brought up abuse in any form and how low-key and almost inconsequentially Sonny handled the subject, I knew this could be a potent story, character-driven for once.
It definitely piqued Benard, the man who suffers from manic depression in real life. He worked hard NOT to blow up, as spoilers indicated, treating the inquiries lightly, trying to get back to Michael, the only reason he agreed to be there on the shrink’s chair.
Surprising and interesting too, was Carly’s blurting out about Sonny throwing glassware, yelling but never harming her or their children. “It’s just a little glass.” This, from Carly, who would never admit to a little glass shattered amongst family. Either she’s really committed to helping her son Michael from the guilt of neglecting him lately, or this is an adjusted Carly, under second recast Jennifer Bransford.
Bransford, I’m finding, is so refreshingly unadulterated as a loyal, inquisitive Carly, interfering, well meaning, tough if she has to be, but never with that mean-spirited, bullying sense of entitlement that Tamara Braun brought to the role. The difference, in my astrologically-minded opinion, between how a Sagittarius and an Aries approach such material. I can like this Carly again, approach her (as Skye did in her own clumsy, hilarious way twice) and not fear the wrath of a street thug.
When John Durant cruelly referenced Bobbie’s past as a child prostitute in front of this new and improved Carly, instead of going for his jugular, Bransford exercised maturity and awareness that these were both her parents, good, bad or ugly, calmly, angrily defended Bobbie and yet, not to the breaking point.
I could really get behind a story that pairs Bransford’s Carly and Benard’s Sonny up in the name of helping their son Michael out of emotional trauma, and then finding themselves the patients.
In fact, as I watched The Godfather, 3 on HBO the other night, it struck me how Michael Corleone, the reluctant mobster, and Kay, the woman he always loved but couldn’t truly have, resembled Sonny and Carly, in vibe, pained regret, and physicality, her towering above him.
Something like that.
OUT OF CHARACTER, INTO COLUMBINE
wasn’t like ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Viki to tear into innocent Marcie like she
did last week. But is Marcie so innocent?
“[They’re just] words on a page.” –Marcie to Viki, OLTL,
One scene between Viki and Marcie on ONE LIFE TO LIVE last week, Friday was it?, had me scared to death.
It involved the aftermath of the Killing Club murderer’s hostage attack, Natalie still missing, but spilled no blood.
Just conversation, intense, angry and hurt conversation… words on a page, the same words on a page that a couple of psychos on the loose took to heart and used to kill several of Llanview’s youngest and finest.
But those words – blame from Viki, the impact of hurt from Marcie – bled.
Unbelievably, saint Viki attacked Marcie for doing her inadvertent part in bringing forth the killings, attempted killings and hostage-takings by simply putting words to a series of pages in a high school journal, then a mystery novel.
Marcie was unbelieving as she stood there taking the brunt of Viki’s fear-driven ricochet, then cried her crocodile tears, performing her mea culpas, as she had done countless other times to everybody else’s tolerance or compassion. Not Viki, not this time. After her daughter Natalie (with the other one who knows where) nearly died at the Diner, and now this, Viki would have no excuses, no tears, from the young woman who profited from the fallout, even if that young woman truly would rather have gone poor.
Dorian should’ve witnessed the scene. She wouldn’t have felt always so inferior. Because when push comes to shove, nobody does a diva better than Viki; she had Tommy, Victoria and Niki by her side once, remember.
Viki brought up a salient point, one not yet acknowledged by the writers through the rest of the characters, or much on the boards by the fans: What about responsibility across the board?
What about Columbine? Does any soap opera dare venture into this real-life tragedy? I hear GENERAL HOSPITAL’s PTB were worried sick because hurricanes are about to hit the Gulf of Mexico, maybe Louisiana and Florida, just as Port Charles got hit with its fictional one last Friday and into this week. They didn’t want to appear to be capitalizing on real-life tragedy, as they seemed to with ENDGAME in the aftermath of 9/11, under Megan McTavish.
I believe, if done properly, soaps have a responsibility to go there. Soaps used to be the last bastion of public service announcements set to story, where viewers could go to not only relax and enjoy, but learn and benefit. Erika Slezak (Viki) doesn’t know how many times fans have learned and benefited from OLTL’s many socially relevant stories, scheduling doctor’s appointments, exams after her character’s breast cancer, a heart attack or two. She said that it matters.
Judging from the heated conversation between Viki and Marcie, I have to say I agree. Nobody won either, nobody can. It’s called a discussion, and far too few of us know how to engage in one without turning it into a life and death war of Jew vs. Palestinian proportions. We all should engage in much more of them, discussions, I mean.
Both women proved their points, too.
Viki accused Marcie of starting this back in high school, appalled that she would, even as a young girl, fantasize about wishing grisly deaths upon real people, however cruel they were to her and her band of outcasts. To people like Viki, the majority of Middle America, thoughts, words on a paper, never any intent, just an offbeat outlet … these are crimes, just as murder is.
Personally, as a writer who follows the Stephen King and Virginia Woolf philosophies of scare ‘em but shake ‘em with the truth, I am on Marcie’s side.
Because as horrific as those fantasies were and as odd to keep journals of them to this day, years past high school, they provided a place to vent the hurt and frustration and yes, rage, at being constantly put down and sometimes physically assaulted. Everybody who can remember their school years as an outcast will quietly attest to this fact. And anybody who claims to live on the high road like Viki, is lying to herself.
There’s a difference between thought and intent, expression and responsibility.
Viki brought up responsibility, too, appalled that Marcie hadn’t thought of the possibility that some sicko out there would take her words in a book and a journal and be inspired to go on a killing spree of his own. Marcie could barely answer, her words lost amidst heartfelt grief and guilt. Viki’s words reflected Marcie’s, deep inside.
To a great extent, we are all responsible for the well being of each other. And yet, how far does that responsibility go, to muzzle the creative expression many writers indulge themselves in, in order to free themselves from pent-up emotions, to share their honest feelings, however bent at times, and maybe not feel so alone in feeling them, just feeling them.
As such a writer, there is enormous cathartic relief in spilling my moods into words on a page. I think little of the effect, other than to cleanse my soul and maybe provide kindred respite in a handful of readers.
Until it’s too late…
I’ve been punished for this release plenty in my past, to the point where I considered hanging up the pen and paper forever, for the sake of my loved ones, for the sake of my own peace of mind and freedom.
I’m sure many other more successful, published writers who vent fictionally or commentary-wise have gone there and back. Questioned the worth of their words against the damage done to the weak of humanity, liable to do or say anything in the name of our freedom of expression.
No answers, just questions…
…The best part of compelling human drama, starting with two of the best in daytime, a multiple-award-winning, acclaimed veteran and a promising newcomer.
I couldn’t think of any better place to start.