August 24, 2004
I’ve been awakened from my General Hospital stupor. I was just telling someone the other day that I was once again in a place with this show where I just didn’t really care either way if I watched it or not. I definitely have not been enjoying much of it, but even worse, I have felt basically nothing while viewing it. So kudos to the writers, I’ve been motivated once again. Thanks so much.
I have no use for Nikolas and Emily, I’ve made that quite clear. Mostly, it’s Emily that I have no use for, but if Nikolas is going to be attached to her hip then he must suffer my dislike as well. Tyler Christopher is a talented actor, but this story has been written very poorly and Mr. Christopher hasn’t been able to pull it out of the coals in time for me. Maybe no one could, I don’t know. If you are a long-term soap watcher, and if you’ve viewed various soaps in your long-term viewing, have you ever tried to count how many memory loss stories you’ve watched? It’s almost like trying to count the “who’s the daddy” stories! I would guess I’ve seen a lot of them. Even when you’ve seen them before, it can be compelling. It can be compelling if the story around it is involving to the viewer. It’s not about watching a grown man cry and throw tantrums fit for a three-year-old, it’s about watching a character you know and love in a situation they could never have logically become involved in otherwise.
Would Nikolas have landed in a mental hospital with Helena’s help, had he not lost his memory? Hmm. Well, he’s about, what, they eighth person from PC this year to land in one, so I’m guessing it could’ve happened. Personally, I think the character of Nikolas would have been better served, and definitely better evolved, by showing us a different side of Nikolas. It might have been nice to see what Nikolas maybe learned from his time as a regular Joe. Did it change him at all, eating chili and grilled cheese? Why would his first reaction, upon learning who he really was, be to act like a high and mighty prince? Looking down on people for their lowly choices (not that I disagree with some of his feelings, but that’s not the point), ordering friends and family alike to leave him alone? Apparently Nikolas minus his memory is really just Nikolas minus a good attitude. How riveting. It would have been more interesting to see the quiet, reserved Connor side of Nikolas telling his family that he was quite happy where he was and didn’t know any of them, and therefore wasn’t interested in living in his mansion or being their Prince.
Then, since he has no one else to turn to for help with Helena (uh…Lorenzo? The guy with contacts and guns and stuff?), he turns to Emily. She hides him in the boathouse, and Helena just tramps on over the Quartermaine lawn in her high heels, with men with straight jackets trailing behind, and takes him. Or maybe she arrived by boat, I don’t know. I didn’t see any life jackets though and any professional straightjacket put-ter on-ner would have put his capture in a life jacket if boarding a boat, I’d hope. So, assumedly, they just dragged him back across the lawn to a waiting white van bearing the words “Shady Brook” on the side – and no one noticed, go figure. Can’t I at least get a scene with Alice staring out the front window wondering about the dude in the straight jacket being dragged from behind Lila’s rose bushes?
I would briefly recap what happened while Nikolas was in the institution and Emily was visiting, but I was mostly confused by the next few days. There was a lot of ranting and raging, and Nikolas screamed and cried a lot. Emily looked concerned, confused, and kinda grossed out by all the slobbering Nikolas was doing (hey, maybe this was an attempt to bond with the viewers! Go Em!). I had to mute most of it, so I really don’t know much of what was said but from what I did gather Nikolas was against having both visitors and tissue in his room. Alrighty then. Then Em had some sort of epiphany where she saw herself in another fantasy sequence with Nikolas, only this time instead of a pirate and his lady friend, they’d be mental patient #1334 and #1336 and they’d bond while staring blankly at a checker board in the community room. Not surprisingly, Emily is not a very good actress.
Just so as to be perfectly clear, none of this woke me from my GH stupor (I can still take notes while in a stupor…they just constitute a lot of unusable wording like “dumb, stupid, stoopid, stoopid doopid”, and so forth.).
Then, it happened. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. And that does include me because while I liked that Nikolas had no memory for awhile, it became really boring when it became clear that absolutely none of it would be about Nikolas, it would all be about Nikolas and Emily. Lucky got involved, not because he’s Nikolas’ brother but because he developed a crush on Emily. Alexis, the remaining member of the somewhat sane Cassadine’s club, became involved because Emily decided to bring her on board and answered at Em’s beck and call regarding Nik. She wasn’t allowed any actual leeway to deal with Nikolas from a family standpoint, just from Emily’s standpoint. I love me some Helena, but I don’t really understand why it benefited her to mess with the situation as it stood. Nik was away from Emily, something she’s supposedly always wanted, and he was angry and ruthless. I’d think that’s just the way she’d like him. It seems the Helena I knew would have bided some time to see what Nik would do next before doing something that she’s smart enough to know would rile up the Senior Scooby gang (they’ve moved up in the ranks to make room for the Scrappy Bits’ antics). I could’ve missed something though, particularly if she explained her motivations during one of Nikolas’ sob-fests.
Anyway, it happened. Nikolas looked back at an endangered Emily – about to be injected with some mind-numbing drug smack in the middle of a GH episode (oh if only we could all be so endangered), and Wham! It all came rushing back to him! His entire life came back in a flash! Well. Wait. His entire life since about the day he slept with Zander’s wife on Zander’s favorite blanket in Zander’s living room. Good memories, those! Wait, I’m going to start a new paragraph because this next part is the important part, the part that awakened me. The part that totally made me see how thoroughly and completely this show sucks, and how we could all have more fun given Emily’s lip gloss and a blank white wall to color with it on.
Nikolas, after months of confusion and torment, remembered his life. It’s the moment all amnesia patients, and their loyal viewers, wait for. The execution varies slightly, but the content is almost always the same. We get flashbacks. Flashbacks of important moments, moments that he’ll want to relive, as will we. Obviously, concessions have to be made when characters have been recast 34 times, but in this case, we were looking pretty lucky since Tyler has handled many of Nik’s defining moments. Sometimes, writers build suspense (will he remember his twue love?!) by flashing back to past loves, letting us see the progression of love through life that delivered us to this moment, this woman! It can be the stuff of epic romance.
Or it can be the stuff of crappy, self-serving, non-character driven soap. I saw the latter. Nikolas remembered Emily, a little bit of Emily, the OnStar logo, Emily, a “cataclysmic event of explosive proportions” with a REAL helicopter, and Emily. That is Nikolas’ life in flashback. Folks, there was a day when GH still remembered how to leave doors open. If you weren’t a fan of a particular couple of the moment, that was okay because there would always be little moments where you could still see the individual characters and if you chose, you could even see the promise of something else down the road. “If you chose”…there’s a phrase I wouldn’t much bother with anymore because there are NO choices on GH. What you see IS what you get. Don’t like that conversation? How about if he stands on the left and she stands on the right? Do you like it now? No? Well, what if he sits down and she….you get the picture. And when the focus finally changes (as it always will) we’ll start all over erasing any residual effects on the individual characters that are left from that last pairing and we’ll move them into their next reason for being. Whatever happened to individual characters with pasts and purposes outside the current, or even the last, pairing?
Before we get too heavy into that though, what the complete heck was the OnStar logo doing? Just sitting inside the dark recesses of Nikolas’ mind, waiting to be freed from the hell that is amnesia so it could once again come into the light? “Oh my God! I am Nikolas Cassadine, and I am in love with her (note to self, find out if I was a heavy drinker when I apparently found her intriguing), I once watched her fly off in a real helicopter, AND, I have OnStar!” I have no words. I really don’t. Actually, I kind of do…but I figure I’ve gone on long enough about it.
General Hospital has spent the last couple of years putting too much focus on developing “super couples”. I’m not so sure most of the successful pairings in history were cooked up before they ever hit the screen, which explains why GH hasn’t produced anything new and exciting in that arena in quite some time. Courtney and Jax have a shot, I think, but the other thing GH has spent the last couple years doing is running the few promising pairings into the ground, so I’m not counting my chickens yet. Characters on GH rarely are allowed conversations with friends, and when they are, we know what they’ll talk about. They’ll talk about the other half of whatever “super” couple they’re in. If you’re not in a “super” couple, you don’t get to talk to friends because why would you need them? You’ve nothing to discuss! Family? Meh. Too confusing. If you’re going to write family, there are all these intricate ties and such. You can’t get a good chemistry test in a room full of relatives! Chemistry = sex, ya know.
They ignore chemistry that shouldn’t turn romantic but IS chemistry just the same. Most days, it really feels like they are clinging to a past idea of greatness that has run its course, but they’re incapable of letting go of it. Nothing lasts forever in soaps, and the only way to serve the genre appropriately is to appreciate the success you had and work to find ways to have it again. You can’t just grab on to something that worked a few years ago for what amounts to a few minutes in soap time, and expect to continue it indefinitely. I really don’t know how much longer I can watch the same. thing. over. and. over. It doesn’t matter how you present it if the conclusion is always the same. Please, let the rumors/spoilers of shakeups to come be true. And by true, I mean let them NOT be temporary little glitches on the long dead road to forever happiness for the same people over and over again. I’m practically begging.
I’ve got some random comments in the works; I’ll get them out yet this week I think. Feel free to drop me a line anytime, I love to hear what you’re thinking!
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