Even when I’m depressed, struggling with one health issue after another – I swear I’m Calamity Cogs – GENERAL HOSPITAL can do little to distract me. 

“This show is just a bunch of mediocrity now. Except for the Luke and Tracy thing.” –Eddie, my husband, after snoozing through the June 29th episode late at night

Incidents are nothing without emotion. And emotion is nothing without historical, soulful context – built through a period of time. Soaps, which used, past tense, this technique to lavish extent in a time when it could, no longer can afford to. 

Such a shame, because just a little emotion, backed up by a little soulful context, could so change characters into people the audience once cared about, almost as much as real people. 

GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Sonny gave me a peek into his soul with a hint of the emotionally driven past story of his young friend Stone’s futile battle with AIDS, in a one-way conversation with a soulless nubile young newbie named Reese (yes, I gave up all hope on her weeks ago). I’m not sure why or what prompted his monologue about brooding over his former penthouse lanai, and losing one of his few touchstones, but for the brief 10 seconds it took for him to explain who Stone was, and what Stone meant to him as a human being, I didn’t care.

… I wondered what would happen if the writers took the fragment of emotion felt by Sonny (at having to remember his pain at losing Stone to AIDS and to comfort his own son with a hope he’s never himself felt as an adult), and launched a series of umbrella stories using the rest of the talented cast.

I had the original Sonny, if I didn’t mind (I did) sitting through Reese’s mind-numbingly apathetic non-responses – it almost seemed like the actress missed a few pointed prompts from her acting partner – the Sonny I’d nearly left for dead as the writers headed toward mass saturation without the character follow-through. 

Sonny spoke regretfully about possessing so much earthly power, the money, the henchmen, the skirting of law and order, and yet helpless to save a loved one from the ravages of an earthly disease. He skirted the one saving grace of an image of Stone given sight moments before parting, but his fragile, broken voice could not. 

Later, he sat Michael down to check on the boy’s state of mind after finding the tell-tale signs of broken glass from a framed picture smashed to bits in a rage the day before, like father, like son. 

And with equal parts guilt, shame, regret, learned humility, tested wisdom and fragile, broken hope, Sonny promised his boy that peace would come, when the emotions, as they always did, faded away, speaking from experience. A flinch, a startle, the spark of his own hope doused, as the question of Sonny’s own therapy lingered unanswered in the air. 

These are the brief respites I hunger for when I watch GH nowadays. That it’s a debased fragment of the emotional floodgates of the ‘90s, is a given. That it can touch accidentally on greatness, then wither unfed, is also a frustrating given. 

As each meaningless incident segue-wayed into another, Bobbie seeking Reese’s counsel just so Carly can get in Reese’s face about her place in Sonny’s heart… Alan threatening Dr. Thomas to force a child back into the Quartermaines to heighten Sonny’s stakes… Nikolas twisting in Emily’s wind… Lucky scowling in the background of Elizabeth, the plot device for Courtney and Jax… the forced introduction of two newcomers, however winning, for the duration of the teen-centered summer… 

… I wondered what would happen if the writers took the fragment of emotion felt by Sonny (at having to remember his pain at losing Stone to AIDS and to comfort his own son with a hope he’s never himself felt as an adult), and launched a series of umbrella stories using the rest of the talented cast. 

Just one fragment. Imagine the emotional sustenance. 

Till then, I feast on scraps that distract from the abyss of lack, those spare emotional fragments, a Coleman sighting, more of Luke, Tracy and the ever-trifling Skye. Their reason for interacting doesn’t make any sense either, but, as Max of GH CHRONICLES wrote last week in “Drudgery Break,” at SOAPTOWN, their emotional integrity, despite the spare scripts, wins out, taking me by surprise. 

Quite welcome. 

PS. EOS’s EVIE TV has a list of GH grievances, including the bizarre turnaround in “B.J.’s Heart, Part II”:

Speaking of which, if you are going to revisit a story that was one of your best stories ever, and only do so to unnecessarily showcase a talented recast, then don’t drop it by having her “meet a cute cop on the run.” I’m not going to complain as others have that, “…the heart story should have had the original players,” because I know that if the original players had been on the show, GH wouldn’t have revisited the heart story.

If, in fact, network execs stepped in to force the head writers to revise their original story arcs mid-stream, as rumored online, then this is the lousy byproduct. Let Pruza, however foul, finish what they started, THEN fire them.



There’s a lot to be said for girl on girl friendships on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, especially when they’re forged from enemy territory.  

“You may be the Buchanan from hell, but my brother is a couple concentric circles lower on the Shakespearean scale.” –David

“Dante.” –Kevin

“No, Kevin, his first name is William.” –David

(OLTL, June 30, 2005) 

The June 29th episode of ONE LIFE TO LIVE shared a common theme: girlfriends and potential girlfriends. 

[As an odd aside, I’ve noticed commonalities amongst two of the three ABC Daytime soaps lately, whether it’s ALL MY CHILDREN’s Adam smashing a framed family photo to GENERAL HOSPITAL’s MyKill smashing his framed portrait, or the unorthodox pregnancies of AMC’s Greenlee and GH’s Elizabeth.] 

What a difference a strong female bond or three can make on this show, even if it falters. 

I saw, in one episode: Viki and Dorian making inroads, only to reach a standoff, over Kevin and Kelly’s re-pairing; Evangeline and Natalie agreeing to put aside their differences in order to stay alive while trapped by some killer in a basement; Jessica unsuccessfully appealing to Ginger’s new-found friendship with Tess; and Nora reversing roles with Evangeline, in taking Bo to task for not doing enough to find the missing “Woman of the Year.” Later, Blair and Kelly will bond over girl talk regarding which of the two studs – Spencer or Kevin – Kelly fancies, as they bonded over which revealing dress Kelly would put on for the “Woman of the Year” gala. 

And, I wanted to see more. 

Soap fans see way too much of the other sort of relationship, the love affairs, the love triangles, the love gone overboard over a stupid man. Too much of this stereotype, and one would assume that all women in general cared about was latching onto a tall, handsome, powerful, rich, physically well-endowed young man. 

On soaps, that stereotypical generality stands as the norm. Women don’t have time for their sisters and mothers, much less their best gal pals (read: the writers and executives care more about forcing supercouples and spinning stories based on chemistry). For quite a long time, too long in the estimation of many of OLTL’s leading ladies, including Hillary B. Smith (Nora), Llanview represented a no (wo)man’s land of friendship. 

With the advent of a female head writer – DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ Dena Higley – that abysmal status quo began to change. Female caricatures shifted into more of a semblance of reality, as well. Kelly got a backbone. Blair softened toward Kelly, and other women. Jessica noticed someone other than herself, Ginger, for instance. Adriana stood up for Kelly and vice versa. Viki couldn’t help but forgive Dorian her transgressions. Marcie suffered for her art and her best friend Jennifer. Nora met her match in Evangeline. 

Friendships, of the male, female or co-ed variety, always serve to legitimize the stories that must reach us in human to human contact (never mind the Mannings’ never-ending third-party obstacles), deepening the sense of loss in the case of a murderous death (Jen), or of peril in the case of two missing paramours to John’s affection (Nat and Vangie), or simply enriching an otherwise chatty scene between two matriarchs, one interfering in the other’s business (Dorian and Viki; although, I would’ve preferred Dorian be the one to help Todd through Viki’s heart attack). 

Of paramount concern last week was, of course, SOAP OPERA DIGEST’s favorite triangle for 2005: Natalie/John/Evangeline. In a clever twist of fate, the killer chose to take both of the women in John’s life, and force John to choose one of them to live, the other one to die. John, of course, will choose both women to live, Natalie first, then Evangeline, because, as his portrayer Michael Easton put it, his cop instincts told him that an unconscious Nat tumbling into the flames below trumped a conscious Vangie. Vangie will misinterpret his choice, John will shrug, wrapping himself in the damaged-goods reputation, and the triangle will go on into the summer. 

None of this choosing and refusing would’ve worked as well had the female participants chosen to fight to the bitter end over a man, and refused to join together to fight the bigger, badder power, the killer. Evangeline’s Renee Elise Goldsberry said as much in a recent SOAP OPERA DIGEST. 

I braced myself for an embittered brawl, though, the second Evangeline and Natalie roused from their chemical slumber, to finish what they started when Evangeline interrupted John comforting Natalie. But relief swept over me as Evangeline, instead, considered the danger they were both in and the threat to John in the killer using them as bait, and then when Natalie apologized without her usual bratty defensiveness for getting them both in this mess. 

The best part of the hostage crisis wasn’t even John’s rescue (the dude showed less emotion than Evangeline’s mother Lisa and best friend Nora), but how John’s women handled the hostage crisis, as one cohesive unit, instinctively clinging together … 

… after, Evangeline had to bring Natalie back to reality with the Do I have to slap you again? line, coupled with an uncontrollable grin, when Natalie nearly succumbed to a ranting panic. That exchange alone significantly helped provide considerable, compassionate insight into both strong, fiercely competitive women, as well as leveled the playing field. 

I absolutely love it when a character’s perceived drawback – as when Evangeline pointed out how Natalie never gives up in getting what she wants, ditto sister – is turned around and used as an unexpected weapon for good. 

Additionally, in that exchange, I witnessed the camaraderie between both of the actresses, Evangeline’s Renee Elise Goldsberry and Natalie’s Melissa Archer, and the strength of their characters to put down their past squabbles for the greater good, their mutual survival, not one without the other. 

Perhaps the primarily female, warring online fan bases might do well to take note.