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« At Least This Is More Interesting Than the Show...Though Not by Much | Main | Just So You Know »

July 28, 2008

Vintage Suds: Dude, GH Used To Be SO Good

Alternate title:  Becca cries when Stone dies!

I knew doing this recap would make me sad.  Because, hello, Stone dies.  Sob!  But it made me sad in a completely different way:  Comparing current General Hospital to 1995 General Hospital is the most heartbreaking soap-related thing I've seen since, I don't know, those hacks killed off Georgie last Christmas.  This show used to be so, so good.  It wasn't even just soap good -- it was good good.  I haven't seen anything good good in daytime since I still wore a scrunchie (which was a REALLY long time ago, haters). 

Anyway, be forewarned that you may read this recap and then hate modern-day General Hospital even more than you already do.  Plus you may go into The Ugly Cry over Stone's death.  So basically, I'm suggesting you have anti-depressants -- pharmaceutical, decanter-contained, or otherwise -- handy and I don't promise that this post will be funny or uplifting in any way.  Read on at your own risk!

Divider

Backstory:  If you were unfortunate enough not to have watched GH in the early- to mid-1990s, and you want some background on Stone and the great, groundbreaking story he and Robin were a part of, here are some clips:

If you are already sniffly, I must warn you, that situation will not improve.

Divider

It's early in the morning.  Robin wakes up and tries to wake up Stone, but he doesn't respond.  She understandably starts to freak out.

Robinstonewakeup

Felicia is in a courtyard, when a bag of something falls from the sky.  She looks up and sees Tom, thrower of the bag of something.  He waves and tells her to have one of the somethings.  Do not even get me started on how much I hated these two as a couple.  They're not together yet in this episode.  Thank god, or it might have tainted the soapy purity of Stone's death.  Ick.

Sigmund leaps onto Lucy and Kevin's bed.  (Sigmund is a duck, in case you weren't watching then and were thinking this was leading to some kind of kinky threesome.)  Lucy thinks Sigmund is trying to tell them something is wrong. 

Lucykevinsigmund

She wants "Doc" (Kevin) to get out of bed and figure it out, but Kev is all "Woman, it is a fucking duck.  Let's go back to sleep."

Even the old credits make me sad.  So many of those great characters are gone, and most of the ones who are left are unrecognizable.  Either way they've been sacrificed at the mob altar.  Sigh.

Lucy thinks that someone is trying to break into the house and Sigmund is trying to warn them.  Kevin is skeptical, as evidenced by his eye-rolling and use of the phrases "watchduck school" and "duckmare."  He wants to ignore the duck and snuggle.  Lucy is anti-snuggling, and finally convinces Kevin to go check out what's wrong.  It turns out that Billie, Sigmund's "true love" escaped out an open window.  Lucy sees this coop-flying as a metaphor for her and Kevin's relationship, and thinks they are doomed.  I must admit I never liked the whole Sigmund-the-duck storyline, but Lucy and Kevin are freaking adorable.

Felicia and Tom are in the courtyard, drinking coffee and eating the baked goods Tom got from the bakery at the crack of dawn.  Tom is always an early riser, but wants to know why Felicia is having trouble sleeping.  She says it's Robin and Stone; she's been through their whole relationship and now he's dying and she doesn't know how Robin is handling things with such "maturity and grace," and how Stone is facing death with "humor and courage and sensitivity to the people that love him and desperately want to keep him here."  Felicia always irritated the crap out of me, as did Tom and his poseur African bracelets, but that was a nice scene.

Stone is groggy but wakes up, and jokingly tells Robin that she's busted; he knows she was checking to see if he was still breathing.  Robin asks how he's feeling.  He says he's spacey, but wants to know how she's doing.  She says she's fine; he wants to know if she's smiling.  She says "always," but he wants proof, because he can't quite see her anymore.  She puts his finger on her lips and he traces them as she smiles; it is ridiculously cute and poignant.  Robin wants to know what Stone wants to do today, and he just wants to "be together, every minute we can."  Sniffle. 

Stone is now out of bed, in a big chair supported by pillows.  Robin is looking out the window, telling him about the day outside, including describing the sun reflecting off the lake and the blueness of the sky he can't see but says he wishes he could.  Robin wants him to pick something to do today.  Stone wants to "hit all the old hangs one more time."  So Robin walks him through his favorites -- lemon poppyseed muffins at Kelly's (including their meeting there), the docks, Luke's, etc.  It's so touching, I even forgive them the use of the phrase "make love."  Throughout all of this they are holding hands adorably.

Side note:  I'm not sure it's possible for me to say this without sounding uber-creepy, but re-watching this episode finally made me realize one aspect of Kimberly McCullough's acting that I think is at least partially responsible for the fact that she has made every single one of her on-screen romantic pairings work.  She has a naturalness about her physical interactions with the men she's paired with -- just the way they hold hands, sit together, kiss, etc.  It seems real, not OTT-soapy the way it is with many people in daytime.  Maybe that's why there are always rumors that she's dating her co-star; by comparison with others it's kind of hard to believe she's acting.  Anyway, sorry to sound like a fangirl, but this struck me while watching these scenes with Stone, and considering she was just barely 17 in this episode (!) and her ability was already evident, I thought it was kind of a noteworthy skill.

Back to the show:  Stone wants Sonny and Mike to reconcile, because Sonny is going to need someone (when Stone dies, though Stone doesn't say that part).  Then Stone starts crying (Robin already is), and says

Robinstonecrying

Stone:  I love you.  More than anyone has a right to love.  I love you from places in my soul that I didn't even know that I had.  I love you. 

Robin tries to comfort him, though tears are streaming down her face now.  She says "I love you.  Beyond anything."  They kiss.  I have the sniffles for serious now.

Kevin wants to know why Lucy suddenly think they're doomed.  She says they're complete opposites and she's totally in love with him but she's been totally in love with lots of guys.  Ha.  Awkward!  Kevin's all thanks, "I feel special."  Lucy says "You are special.  You're the most specialist."  Hee.  Lucy babbles on and Kevin finally clues in that Damien has put negative thoughts about her and Kevin in her head.  She refers to them as "subliminable messages," which makes me laugh and also remember that our president thinks that's a word, too.  Anyway, they resolve things -- "Why aren't you kissing me right now?" "I have no idea."  And they make out.  Cute.

Sonny is clearly worn out and looks like he hasn't slept in ages.  Lily wants to know how Stone is.  Sonny says the last time he went up to check, Robin and Stone were laughing so he didn't want to interrupt.  Lily says she dreamed about Stone all night, and Sonny says he did too, except he was awake.  Sonny is angry that Stone's parents aren't around, how can they let this happen to their son without them being there?  He is upset, but quietly so.  (You haven't been able to say that about Sonny in about half a decade.)  Lily tries to comfort him.

Side note:  I cannot tell you the immense difference between Maurice Benard's performance in 1995 and his performance for the last several years.  It's like two completely different actors.  I used to like Sonny a lot, not just because he wasn't written as the good guy, but because Benard brought so much depth to the character.  In that scene with Lily, Sonny was sensitive and altruistic, and Benard didn't stutter or mumble once.  He didn't go all rageaholic or break out the duh face.  It was great to watch.  And it makes the last few years all that less understandable.

Oh, here we go.  THE scene.  Sob.  You can watch it here, or I'll walk the weaker-hearted through it. 

Robin puts Stone back in bed.  She says she's going to go get him something to eat, but he grabs her hand -- in a way that gave me a jolt, probably based not only on Michael Sutton's incredibly spot-on facial expression, but on Kimberly McCullough's excellently played reaction as well -- and asks her not to leave him.  She agrees.  Stone asks her to "Go stand by the window, in the light."  She slowly makes her way to the window.  We see through his eyes that he can now see a vague outline of Robin,

Stoneseesrobinblurred

and then her face comes into sharp relief.

Stoneseesrobinclear

Stone is crying now, and utters the unforgettable line:

Stone:  I see you!  Oh Robin, I see you! 

He has this incredibly joyous smile on his face.

Stoneseesrobinsmile

And then the camera cuts to Kimberly McCullough (being awesome).  Robin starts crying and walks toward the bed.  She knows he's gone.  She closes his eyelids as a final tear falls from his eye.  She climbs into bed with him, pulling his arm around her. 

Stonediesrobinbed

Oh my god, I'm totally crying, and I've seen this at least four times before.  I might be a Soap Crazy.

Sonny comes in to check on Stone, with a half-smile on his face that is clearly pasted there to make sure Stone doesn't see how upset and worn out he is (damn, Maurice Benard seriously used to bring it) and asks Robin if Stone is asleep.  She lifts her head and from her expression he knows -- "Is he dead?"  He starts rapidly nodding his head, saying "He's dead"; trying to make himself believe it.  He paces and fidgets, trying not to cry.  Then he stops and looks at Stone and says, "He's okay.  He's okay.  He's okay."  Robin nods and cries, still in Stone's arms.  I may have gone into The Ugly Cry at this point.

Lucy and Kevin are lounging in bed in post-HavingTheSex bliss.  They talk about their relationship and it would otherwise be interesting but I am still wrapped up in Stone's death so I don't pay much attention.

Some time has passed; Robin is holding Mac's hand and telling him about Stone. 

Robinmac

Robin: It was so simple.  Silent.  After everything he's gone through, the pain, the sickness, losing his sight; it was just quiet.  He asked me to stand in the light, so I did.  And I looked at him, and he was smiling, a smile so pure and joyful, and he said 'I see you.  Robin, I see you.'  And I knew he did.  And in that same instant, things shifted.  Something just slipped off its axis really quietly and he was just...he just wasn't there anymore.  I felt this incredible sensation of love come over me.  I don't know, I just felt so loved.
Mac: That's because you are, Robin.

Mac rocks.  The doorbell rings and it is Felicia.  Robin says "Are you here because you know he's gone?" and Felicia, who it's obvious from her expression did not know, pulls Robin into a hug.  Felicia gives Mac a woeful look over Robin's shoulder.

Felicia wants to know what she can do for Robin, and Robin says she can never forget Stone. 

Felicia: I'll never forget him.  I don't know, maybe this will help, maybe this won't, but you loved him well.  You loved him with everything that you are.  With your strength, and with your courage.  And you believed him him when he didn't have any other takers.  And he loved you right back.  You could tell.  You saw it, and you recognized it.  And you did it right.  Very right.

(Seriously, I think I had more "Felicia is kind of awesome" moments during this episode than I did cumulatively during her run on the show.)  Robin says she doesn't know what she's going to do without him, and Felicia gives her a big hug, just as a smiling Brenda pops in through the open front door.  As soon as she sees Robin's face, she knows, and Robin hurries from the couch to meet Brenda; they hug and cry together while Felicia holds Robin's hand.

Sonny holds Stone's hand to his face, and finally breaks down crying. 

Sonnystone

He reaches over and rests his head on Stone's chest and I am seriously so far past The Ugly Cry right now, it's tragic.

Mac calls Luke, but Robin asks for the phone.  Luke knows before Robin tells him (which you can tell because Tony Geary is awesome, that hideola hair to the contrary).  Robin tells Luke, through her GIGANTIC cordless phone, that Stone died. 

Robinphone

Luke wants to know if there is anything she needs, but there isn't.  Robin thanks Luke for being so good to Stone, and Luke says "It was an honor, love."  Robin says her dad used to call her that.  (Mine did too, so now I'm doing The Ugly Cry again.)  Robin says she will be in touch when she knows the plan for Stone, and they hang up.  Luke is terribly sad.

Luke

Lucky comes bounding down the stairs and when he sees his dad, wants to know what's wrong.  Luke says simply, "Stone's gone."  Lucky wants to know if he's sure.  "Yeah.  Yeah, cowboy, I'm sure."  Jonathan Jackson was possibly the best child actor I've ever seen on soaps, and he and Tony Geary together are pretty much perfection. 

Lukelucky

Plus, I haven't heard a conversation this realistic and moving on a soap in eons, so I'm going to do the lazy recapper thing and just transcribe it.

Lucky: Where do you think he is?
Luke: Stone?
Lucky: Yeah.  I mean, Dad, what do you think happens when you die.
Luke: I think you're dead.
Lucky: Like it's over?  There's nothing left?
Luke: Well I think what's left is the people you leave behind.  The people who love you.
Lucky: I don't believe that.
Luke: What do you believe?
Lucky: Okay.  The world makes a lot of sense, Dad.  I mean, not what people do, that's messy.  I mean, the physical world is too orderly for it to be random.  There's gotta be a connection between things.  Am I not making any sense, Dad?
Luke: Oh no, you're making sense.  Go ahead.
Lucky: Okay, I'm going to start over then.  It's like...it's like when I'm standing in an open field, you know, and I'm surrounded by green grass and green leaves on the trees.  Dad, when I look up at the sky, it is so bright blue it hurts my eyes.  And it's...it's not like I'm...I'm in the scene; I'm part of it, you know?  It's too awesome for there not to be something more, something bigger that we can't see from down here.  You know what it's like?  It's like a painting.  You know, it's there to admire, you know, but it didn't paint itself.  Somebody had to  paint it.  And in the same way, somebody or something had to create the stars and the green grass.  And it couldn't have been a man.  If it was a  man, that guy'd be on TV, taking credit for it.  So, it we know that there's something more to the world, there's got to be a deeper mystery to the whole cycle of birth and life...and death.
Luke: Could be. [From Geary's delivery you know Luke is just saying this to placate Lucky, that he doesn't really believe it.  He is so good.]
Lucky: None of that answers my question, Dad.  I still don't know where Stone is. 
Luke: He's in our hearts.

Damn.  I mean, it's no "I know I called you a lying whore, and all that," but it will have to do.

Lucy hangs up the phone, having just been told about Stone.  She tells Kevin, and they both cry. 

Lucykevininbed

That makes three of us.

Felicia comes into Stone's room.  Sonny is in the chair and Lily is on the arm, trying to comfort him.  Brenda, Robin, and Mac follow Felicia in and they all look at Stone.  Robin kneels at Sonny's feet (literally, not in the figurative way every character in town would start doing a few years after this), and tells Sonny it's okay.  Sonny wants to know how, and Robin says she doesn't know yet, but they have to make it that way, because it's what Stone would want.  Felicia strokes Stone's face and says goodbye.  Mac comes up behind her and takes her away.  Brenda tries to go to Stone but she breaks down just before she gets to him. 

Brendasonny_2

Sonny rushes from the chair to catch her, and moves her to take his place in the chair.  He sits on the arm where Lily had been sitting, while Brenda hugs his arm and cries.  (Aw, why couldn't those two crazy kids make it work?)  Mac looks on stoically from across the room while Felicia looks out the window that gave Stone his last sight.

Robin sits down next to Stone and puts her hand on his.  She tells the room that she wants "a memorial service that celebrates his life" and she wants it "as quickly as possible."   Then she strokes Stone's face and gazes at him one last time, tracing her own fingers over her smile.

Comments

One reason soaps bite the big time? SHOW DON'T TELL.
Waching these scenes makes my cold rotten heart remember why I used to enjoy soaps. Now I can barely get through them unless I am doing other things at the same time...

Luza sucks

I was so sure I wouldn't cry watching that clip, and then I totally did. Multiple times over the 10 minutes. Thanks for an awesome recap! I can't decide whether to be sad for the state of GH today, or relieved that it's no longer so good that I would have to spend 5 hours/week watching.

It doesn't matter how many times I see this, the tears just come.

This storyline was dark in it's own way but no guns, no shoot outs, just honest to goodness emotions. Hey life!!!!

Thanks for reminding us all (again) how great GH used to be.

Gah!! I read the title of the blog, saw you were recapping this storyline and started welling up. This is one of the few storylines (along with BJ dying) that as soon as I see it mentioned, I'm instantly there, siting on my living room floor, 20-years old, and doing some serious ugly crying. Red spots on the forehead, snotty, physical head pain, crying. But damn, when it was good, it was good.

Dudes. I'm like the biggest Scrubs fan ever, and they will always be my favorite Robin pairing, though after that I wish I had watched their love story, but you gotta give props to something good. I've seen some Robin and Stone moments, I've watched some, if not all, of the scenes you posted and they were damn good. Personally from just hearing and not watching I don't think there was anything remarkable about Stone or RnS, they were just two crazy kids in love, but the true remarkable thing is the way Stone faced his death. I didn't watch him but from all I've seen and heard, the way that he accepted his death and loved Robin pure and true and with his whole heart made him amazing, remarkable, and made me love him. I didn't 'ugly' cry, actually the first time I saw that I had barely seen them and cried a little so I don't blame you because it really was that good, now it just leaves me with a bit of heartache. But in the end I'm glad Stone died, not because he didn't deserve to live or wasn't a great guy, but because 1) this was the perfectly tragic end to a tragic love story and 2) while I would love to see Stone now I don't want Guza anywhere near him, seeing how much Sonny has changed shows me Stone would be no different. Honestly I don't care how many RnS fans tell me different, Stone would not be the exception to Guza, and looking at it in real life I don't think Stone and Robin would have lived happily ever after, the reality is this was just young love and they rarely last, but the way they loved each other makes you want to wish it would be different.

In all honest, this is one of my favorite 90's things I've seen. Another of my favorite Stone moments, and there are a lot, is when Luke tells Stone that he made up in quantity what he lost in quality and he touched many peoples lives and they love him. That gives me heartache, as does Stone telling Robin that he doesn't want to die because he doesn't want to leave her. Again I know its young love but I strongly believe Stone wasn't meant to live, Robin was his true love and the person he was meant to die with, Robin on the other hand has much more life left in her, who it ends with is uncertain. I really want a scene where Robin 'dies', like Viki on OLTL, and sees Stone again, but then she's brought ack to life to live with the Muffin and the guy she's with, which I hope is Patrick but who knows on this show. I really wish GH was as good as it was in the 90s and even more back

Touching episode in itself, and so symbolic of what GH in the 90's (during the tenure of Labine and Riche): Relationships. Family. Friends.

Back in the day, it wasn't just the obligatory teen summer foursome who interacted...though those were always good, too (to wit, Jason, Karen, Brenda, Jagger. Nicholas, Lucky, Elizabeth, Emily). Everyone had friends. Mac and Flea and Kevin and Lucy. Alan, Monica, Bobbie, Tony. Jax and Brenda, Lois and Ned. The elder Hardys with the senior Baldwins. Everyone who lived in the brownstone. Generations and sexes and, to a small extent (the Wards) races, were connected to one another. And, yeah, they all joined in loving the doomed Stone and supporting Robin at his death. Beautiful.

I'm not even going to compare it to what we have now. But just wanted to note two things vis a vis the synopsis:
1) never liked Tom and Flea as a couple, but I did like Matt Ashford (African bracelets aside)as Tom. Tom was so patently NotJackDevereaux that I gained a lot of respect for MA as an actor. Didn't realize he had so much range until then.
2) Would love to see you post and review the 1995 episode in which Monica breaks it to her sons that she has cancer. Steve Burton has never done better work, before or since, than in his scenes with Leslie Charleson and Stuart Damon. Fans who only know him as C3POJason won't recognize him.


OMG Just reading your description of the epi had me crying. No matter how many times I watch this episode I still tear up. Kimberly and everyone else in this episode was amazing. It pains me to see what a crapfest GH has become.

This was only one storyline....there was so much integration between characters and storylines....these characters were real to us; we believed them and knew them....we ultimately cared for them unlike the GH of today where there is no emotional involvement with anyone, as if we are insiders peering inside but without feeling....oh for the
GH of long ago...

Scurbs with their 3 years of banter going nowhere cannot compare with the love of Stone and Robin. Heartwrenching...something we don't see with any of the characters on GH any more.

That scene and crying just go hand in hand, no matter how many times I watch it. Big, hacking, heaving sobs.

It's almost impossible to believe that we've gone from THAT to what is currently passing for GH these days.

Sad.

Wow!

Thank you for showing me what I was missing while I was wasting my time with the storyline where Marlena was posessed by the devil.

I should have started watching GH a long time ago.

You know the best thing about all of these scenes? Carly is nowhere to be found. I have only been watching GH for 5 or so years, and here I am, with very little backstory on Stone, bawling at work. I also don't want to watch GH today because I know I am not going to get anything NEARLY this good.

I'm reading these comments and nodding my head all throughout. When we see how good it was like this, it makes me wonder how the people in charge now can't see how bad it's gotten? It makes sense now why the current writers are destroying any tie with the good GH of past years (i.e., killing legacy characters like Alan or destroying characters like Robert) so that we the long-time viewers can somehow not have reminders of how good it used to be (?). Doesn't work. I remember and it is frustrating to watch the show these days. I wish the people in charge would do something about the writing these days. It can be good again, I just know it.

I just love this blog because you can articulate what I truly feel in my heart about this show. You described that story and in particular that episode to perfection. You were spot on regarding all the performances and in particular I couldn't agree with you more on your take regarding Kimberly and Maurice. Kimberly has only gotten better since then IMO because the material she has had to play since her return in 2005 hasn't been even half as good as what she got during this story and even after -- and she still brings it and makes it as real as possible. I just loved Maurice then too and he hasn't been even close to this in years. Maybe it has something to do with his medication, I don't know. But he has been phoning it in for a while and I only can see a glimpse of the actor he was when he is in scenes with Kimberly. And even though those are few and far between, I really treasure them even though the writing still stinks.

I guess it is just heartbreaking for all of us who remember how good this show was to see what it has become. It is really like a death in the family. You become so close to these characters after being with them for years and years. To see the way they are written now, to see a core family like the Quartermaines totally decimated and replaced with a mob family like the Zaccharas just makes me sick. The cast as a whole is still terrific and if the stories improved, were more character driven and the show was more balanced it could get better again. But it just seems like this regime doesn't want it to change and I have no idea why the execs don't see how bad it has gotten to the point where even most of the actors know and have just given up and accepted the mediocrity.

Thanks again for taking us down memory lane, as painful as it may be.

I started crying from the subtitle. I adored Robin and Stone and this is one of the best episodes of GH ever! I didn't even watch the youtube clips as I read and was bawling my eyes out. I think I went through a half a box of kleenex! I also cried at the mere mention of Kevin and Lucy (damn, I miss them!) and then at the sight of Jonathan Jackson and Tony Geary together in a pic! I loved GH so much back then, and now I can barely bring myself to care to watch it. i had a week on my dvr that i hadn't watched yet and I forgot I hadn't seen it until one of my friends started talking to me about the Qs being on! This stupid show sucks so bad and needs to get it's freaking act together - and fast!

there was an episode in the 1980's, Laura returning, during the "Think of Laura" Christopher Cross song duration, that loved ones of Laura felt her presence. Fog was around and I think it took place outside of Kelly's Diner or on the docks. I only remember shadows that allowed the viewer to think that Laura was there. Each time her presence was felt, the song would play and you would see and hear footsteps of a lady.

Does anyone know what episode it was? I remember watching it with my grandma, and would love to see it 1 more time.

thank you!!!

t.c., you may have some luck asking that question in our forums, here:
http://serialdramadish.9.forumer.com/
index.php?showtopic=23&st=15

(But delete the space before "index" -- sorry, we can format links in the comments.)

Thank you so much for this recap. I'm bawling and I didnt' even used to watch this in real time.

Do you know why the YouTube link to Robin tells Stone she's HIV positive is private? I couldn't seem to find another one.

I remember all of this!! It was the best of GH ever!!! I cry EVERY time I even think about it. yes and the georgy getting killed was TRAGIC too! I agree W/ you on just about every thing... I've been watching GH since luke owned a disco.. (I was bout 7/8) love it but had to tell you how much I LOVEd the stone/ Robin stuff, the BEST of the best. //I used to enjoy jagger and brenda & gang too.. those were the good ole days on GH :)

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