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« Restless Bile | Main | This Hour Could Be Better Spent Doing Anything, Including Staring at a Wall »

March 04, 2008

Oh, They're "Special" Alright

I kind of wanted to title this post "It's Still the Writing, Stupid," but I decided that as a really official and important member of the media I should avoid appearing Clintonian on this critical election day.  Therefore you got the sarcastic use of quotation marks.  Campaigns are truly draining. 

So, in case you are smarter than I am and are not watching General Hospital these days, you should know that you are missing out on some "unbelievable" special effects.  Poor Bradford Anderson was forced to refer to them as such while pimping a special behind-the-scenes look this Wednesday at how the magic happens.  I would prefer a special behind-the-scenes peek at how exactly the showrunners and head writer manage to perennially remain in a posture of cranial-rectal inversion, myself.  That would be eye-opening.

Anyway, Diego the Suddenly Undead Serial Killer's crappy rental car crashed and dangled off a bridge.

Cgi_car_off_bridge

Aren't you terrified by the really real realism?

Cgi_car_off_bridge_2

Are you on the edge of your seat?

Cgi_car_off_bridge_overhead_view

Doesn't this totally make up for the fact that this show hasn't had a great story arc since at least before Britney and Justin broke up?

Cgi_car_off_bridge_view_from_below

You totally thought this was shot on location, didn't you?

Cgi_car_off_bridge_windshield_view

Seriously, are you wowed by those effects?  If so, I'm so sorry that you haven't been to the movies in the last 20 years.  They've been doing some great things with their magic cameras.

You know who is wowed by these effects, and others like them, though?  The people in charge of General Hospital.  Of fucking course.  To wit, from the February 19th issue of Soap Opera Digest:

[ABC Daytime President Brian Frons] first joined forces with Stargate while overseeing SOAPnet's GH companion, NIGHT SHIFT.  "They were the guys that brought us across the harbor to actually see downtown Port Charles for the first time," he explains.  "[They] digitally crafted the General Hospital tower, which we had never seen before, and of course, they were the ones that made the city of Port Charles appear at dawn from the roof of the hospital."

And in November, Stargate was responsible for that eye-popping footage of Jason navigating his boat through stormy waters as Spoon Island and its eerie residence, Wyndemere, loomed in the background.  "We had a boat and we had Jason," says Frons.  "Everything else -- the rain, the island, Wyndemere -- was done digitally."  The results were impressive.  "When they cut to Spoon Island, it looked like something out of a great, cool, old, scary horror flick!"  raves [TV Guide soap columnist Michael] Logan.  "It was flawless."

First of all, these quotes are actually incredibly entertaining if you read them with the voice that Michael Bay uses while mocking himself in those Verizon FIOS commercials, calling everything "awesome" in an exaggerated valley accent.  Second of all, like most insane things, these statements need to be closely studied. 

"[T]he General Hospital tower, which we had never seen before."

Let's ooh and aah like we're apparently supposed to over the amaaaazing shot in question from Night Shift, shall we?

Ns_gh_tower

Wow, we have NEVER seen that tower before.  Never.  Definitely not every day for 35 years or anything.

Gh_tower_in_opening_theme_2

This guy doesn't even watch the shows he's in charge of, does he? At least there does appear to be some consistency from the GH higher-ups.  That being "if it happened before we got here, it's garbage."  See also Luke and Laura, the Quartermaines, and aversion to weekly homicides.

"[O]f course, they were the ones that made the city of Port Charles appear at dawn from the roof of the hospital."

Of course.

Ns_sunrise_leyla

Ns_view_from_roof

Let me just take this opportunity to say, on behalf of those of us who suffered through the inexplicably highly rated Night Shift:  1) those effects were about as realistic as Posh Spice's boobs (critical difference:  she's still awesome), and 2) you know what they should have spent that time and money on instead of special effects?

  • decent dialogue writers
  • haircuts for Steve Burton, Dominic Rains, and Bradford Anderson
  • story arcs that actually made sense
  • a consultant specializing in any of the following:  medical accuracy, time continuity, how not to suck

"'We had a boat and we had Jason,' says Frons.  'Everything else -- the rain, the island, Wyndemere -- was done digitally.'  The results were impressive."

I checked, and according to dictionary.com, "impressive" does not have an alternate meaning that is roughly equivalent to "absolute ass."  So I'm confused.  Not as confused as Mr. Frons, though, who apparently thinks it will come as a great surprise to everyone that the rain, Spoon Island, and Wyndemere were created on one of them there fancy computin' machines.

Jasonboat

Jasonboat2

I know I was mesmerized by the realism of the journey of Jason the ArgoNot.

"'When they cut to Spoon Island, it looked like something out of a great, cool, old, scary horror flick!'  raves Logan.  'It was flawless.'"

Wyndemere5am

First, by definition, shouldn't expensive, modern special effects look nothing like something out of an old horror flick?  Also, I will momentarily act as counsel for the words "great," "cool," and "flawless" and register an official objection at their inclusion in any sentence related to that hot mess of graphics above.

Honestly, FLAWLESS?!  I hate it when nobody reminds me it's opposite day.

Divider

Please don't misunderstand me; I am NOT saying that soaps should really work on their special effects.  I actually love the cheesiness of soap sets and effects -- they're part of the genre!  My issue with these effects is that they are this huge, expensive, in-your-face reminder that the people who run these shows have no clue what they're doing, or at least are completely unwilling to acknowledge that the writing is what really needs work. 

Can you imagine if the GH powers-that-be put half the effort into plotting out a sweeps arc that they did into hanging that economy car off a virtual Erector Set?   The results could be impressive!  Great!  Cool!  Flawless!  For reals.

Screencaps courtesy of Clarissa.

Comments

Do you think that Brian Frons' pants are permanently ablaze, or only when he opens his mouth?

This TMK story was the most violent and disgusting sweeps story ever. How many times do we need to see Emily strangled? How many ways do we want to see women brutalized? The audience wants hospital-based stories, so they send half the cast to the hospital with bullet wounds. Unfortunately, the scab writers will probably get the blame for this one. However, this story has Guza's fingerprints all over it. They are writing this show for teenage boys and for the head of ABC daytime who is an adolescent himself.

i was watchin old gh from 1989 during the dragonbone story, and for a farewell party for Tracy's ex husband, they were actually outside..and for the majority of the episode....why cant they do that these days? it wud be so much more interesting then wat they do now..and btw..the new guiding light look sucks bob guza's left nut

who are they kidding?! The Melaswen electric forcefield that Bo Brady bounced off of on Days was better special effects than this crap!!

is it possibly that instead of cgi they're using video game graphics, the quality would make so much more sense if they were...sort of realistic but not really supposed to be perceived as real. and I totally agree with you that soaps sets are supposed to be cheesy it's part of their charm!

oh and you forgot to mention another great GH cgi moment when Johnny and Luke literally hang out on the roof of GH with the busy street below...gag me!! the money for that scene and others could have gone to a special fund so the vets might get to say more than four words a week...I mean seriously there's enough money to put this crap on the air but not enough to keep Jackie Zeman on contract and give her a story!!

I love Jason questioning if Lorenzo survived that fall too! So hysterical. Not only would he have had to MIRACULOUSLY learned how to fly, but also survive being shot by the world's greatest hitman Twice at point blank range!!!! We frickin heard it on the tape recording Ric had!!!!

I LOVE GH when Jason's brain damage is referenced. Even if it's by accident. DUH.

I nearly flipped my lid when I saw that Logan quote in the article. Didn't he used to be a serious soap journalist? Wouldn't he have been the first one to say: acting and writing make a soap, not location shoots, guest stars, or shit like this.

Jerry ver Dorn, why aren't you running soaps instead of these twits? Years ago he said he believed the soap audience would watch the actors perform before a curtain.

I actually think the effects were great. Is it sumemr movie blockbuster type greatness? No. But it is miles ahead of anything ever on daytime before, and even better than some on primetime.

That said the storyline and show still suck... But Maxie & Spinelli make it worth it.

Who's Dominic Rains?

What is also special is how the car rocked/tetered on the edge of the bridge when Elizabeth was trying to escape. However, it hardly moved when Diego woke up and started fighting with her.

Also since you mentioned the opening credits, has anyone noticed that about half of the cast shown has actually left the show.

The only interesting thing I noticed lately is that at times, Jason Thompson actually looks like he could be Rick Springfield's son. However, that is from what I remember Rick Springfield to look like. He has been MIA since the fall.

I know I just wrote a comment. However, I just saw part of Guiding Light. Instead of pretending they are outside during a scene, the scene is actually filmed outside. Here is a link on how GL has changed the way they "film"their show:
www.cbs.com/daytime/gl/about/justin/

Something has really been bothering me about the Logan quote and I just realized what it is. When I first saw the effects around the Wyndemere Ball--Jason in the boat which inexplicably blows up (Did anyone ever discover why?) the view of the castle--I thought they were intentionally campy. A riff on the old Dark Shadows cheesy effects. I thought the CGI was so amateurish that we were meant to laugh at them, at least under our breath. Now I find out others thought they were "flawless".

They don't really imagine we think the car crash looks just like it is happening on location, do they?

Becca, as always...a "flawless" post. And by "flawless" of course I actually mean "flawless" per a normal person's definition, not cardboard-Wyndemere-fake-rain flawless. I meaaannnnnnnnnnn.....wow.
I didn't watch the CGI but when I saw the promo for it, my eyes just rolled (which has become a reflex these days watching GH). HAVE any of these people been to the movies lately? While I don't expect the same degree of special effects for soaps, that's just the point--that's for big-budget $100m productions. Have they paid attention to their viewer demographic and that most women between 18-65 or whatever don't give a rat's ass about "special effects"? Arrrrrgghhhh....I'm just annoyed by this on so many levels. As I can tell you are. So bravo on another great commentary.

GET rid of the mobsters!! period!!
Mobsters aren't to be glorified or admire or intelligent women their door mats. Women are leaving in thousands CUZ they are sick of the violence against women and making women look like whinny, idiots.

I just watched the 1990s ep of GH that was on SoapNet on Valentine's Day, and Felicia and Tom Hardy were getting it on on the roof of the brownstone, and behind them was...an entire cityscape. An entire fake, bluescreen cityscape. Over ten years ago. Whatever, FRONS. Asshat.

Awesome comments. Me, I just couldn't even see anything during the last CGI show. Everything was dark. Maybe they could've done this during the day so we could see what was such a big deal.

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