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.
Aren't you terrified by the really real realism?
Are you on the edge of your seat?
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?
You totally thought this was shot on location, didn't you?
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?
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."
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.
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.'"
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.
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.