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« Oh, Young Love | Main | There Are Just So Many Great Things To Choose From »

September 17, 2008

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

In case you missed the September 16th issue of Soap Opera Digest, our My Take/My Take, Too column is after the jump. This month, Mallory marvels at the fact that All My Children and General Hospital employ more than six actors apiece (and also wonders when the hell GH is planning to update the group shot at the end of the opening credits), while Becca abandons her original plan to write "♥SRI♥RAO♥" over and over, instead opting for explaining the myriad ways this season of General Hospital: Night Shift is light-years better than the show it was spun off from (to say nothing of the show's first season -- because that's our agreement, to say nothing of it).

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My Take
By Mallory Harlen

Watching the opening credits for ALL MY CHILDREN and GENERAL HOSPITAL is more educational than one might assume. They've taught me that every actor has their own unique spin on smiling goofily or smoldering at the camera. I've also learned that GH is apparently trying to set a record for the most outdated opening, since about three quarters of the men in their group shot at the end have been killed off. Most important was the revelation that both shows have more than six cast members, which is something that I wouldn't have guessed based on watching either show.

There has been a revolving door of head writers at AMC recently, but one thing remains the same no matter which regime is writing: If your character isn't named Zach, Kendall, Ryan or Greenlee, or romantically involved with one of those four, you're probably not going to get anything resembling a storyline. I love Zach, Kendall, and Greenlee. And Ryan...um, anyway, I understand the impulse to put such entertaining characters on-screen as much as possible, but AMC has a very talented cast that's not being utilized at all. It's tragic that Amanda DIllon, a legacy character, is Babe's sycophant and not a front-burner character in her own right. Chrishell Stause has charisma to spare and could drive tons of stories as a schemer or a heroine, or anything besides the pretty window dressing that she currently is. And the decision to drop Colin Egglesfield (Josh) to recurring status was boneheaded. The show couldn't think of anything for Erica's handsome, single, doctor/television producer/business mogul son to do? Really? These people should have their soap writing licenses revoked.

I used to hope that Sonny, Jason and Carly would stop monopolizing the GH airtime, but that was a futile dream. For whatever reason, the writers are committed to focus solely on them and I made peace with that. Perhaps foolishly, though, I thought that the non-Sonny/Jason/Carly airtime could be given to some non-mob related characters. Oh, how wrong I was: The Zacchara siblings are taking up more than their fair share of screen time. Johnny is still a relatively new character, so I'm not sure why I should care about him, let alone watch him five days a week. And I'm on the record as a fervent fan of Sarah Brown (Claudia). I'd probably watch her read the phone book, but I feel like there's no plausible explanation for her being involved in every story on the show, especially when it means that so many other characters get put on the back burner. Liz gets trotted out every once in a while to be a sounding board for other characters instead of getting a story of her own. How am I supposed to be invested in her star-crossed romance with Jason if I forget that she's even on the show? And the fake drug storyline seems tailor-made for her: she's connected ot the major players and she works at the hospital, but she's not a part of it. It would also be nice to see one of the surviving Quartermaines once in a while, but that's even sillier than expecting a hit man not to be the star of a show with the word "hospital" in the title.

My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas

When I heard there was going to be a second season of GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT, I suppose I would describe my reaction as dread mixed with glee. I dreaded having to sit through another 13 episodes of terrible dialogue, character destruction, GREY'S ANATOMY rip-offs, disconnection from regular GH and characters' histories, heavy-handed attempts to deal with serious issues and Dr. Patrick Drake's hotness being systematically destroyed. But I was a little gleeful because wow, did Mallory and I get a lot of mileage out of tearing that show to threads last year. Soap opera rage brings people together! Then something odd happened: The show premiered. And it was decent.

It may not always seem like it, but I like to give credit where credit is due. It's just that I rarely have that opportunity because other than a brief period on DAYS OF OUR LIVES last year and more recently GH during the writers' strike, my shows' trajectories have been downward. So I must give credit to NIGHT SHIFT's second season. Robin and Patrick having a new conversation (as opposed to the same one they'd been having for the last year and a half or so), the return of the real Robert Scorpio (as opposed to the distorted version that the writers created on GH the last time the awesome Tristan Rogers returned), and the inclusion of medical stories have all been great. Not to mention Jagger! Antonio Sabato, Jr. is gorgeous (I have been a fan since the Janet Jackson video, so step off, youngsters!), and having Jagger back reminds me of an era on GH that I loved. I'm not crazy about NIGHT SHIFT's supporting cast this year, and I don't understand why they didn't just make Ethan Rains a brother to Leo's character instead of giving Leo a personality transplant (particularly when unlike most transplants, this one was not for the better), but overall, NS's second attempt is a huge improvement over its first. Sri Rao and his team appear to actually know and like the longtime GH characters, which is a refreshing change of pace from regular GH.

One of my favorite moments so far this season on NS was when Claire derogatorily referred to a neighborhood as "mob-adjacent." I might have actually squealed with delight. The mob was addressed with something other than reverence on a show related to GH. Stunning. Because seriously, I know some of us have been complaining for years about the mob taking over GH, but it has really reached the point of the ridiculous. It's clear that the people in charge disagree, since they just keep adding new mobsters to the canvas, but I have to wonder whether most viewers agree with the show's direction, and if they do, why the ratings keep sinking. I don't know how you can look at GH and decide that what it needs is more mafia, but then I am also retro enough to think that the hospital should be front and center on a show called GENERAL HOSPITAL. Thankfully, I have NS for another few weeks to provide some hospital-centered soapiness that's not mob-adjacent.

Comments

Brava!! If only Guza, Frons et al would start LISTENING to you smart ladies!

I'm right there with you. Somehow nobody at ABC Daytime noticed that GH was better during the writing strike. Since it seems that GUZA is short of a clue, I'll lend him one. GH IS BETTER WHEN YOU USE "ALL" OF THE CHARACTERS AND GIVE THEM GOOD STORIES. I know this will offend, but the more actors on GH that take acting lessons from Maurice Bernard the more I feel going to the top of GH and jumping off.

This season is better than GH. But GH is so bad that that is not saying much. I wish they had given Patrick a real storyline. The sily Chief of Staff hasn't worked out as a meaty story.
Having Robin's Dad back is good. But Jagger-stone story is boring me to tears,
The episode with the cystic fibrosis was amazing. Everything else was just dull.

Did we see this, yet??

In addition, TV Guide reports that the two-part finale of GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT — Oct. 21 is the last airdate — will be a joy fest for longtime GH fans. Anthony Geary (Luke), John Reilly (Sean) and Sharon Wyatt (Tiffany) will appear.

You might want to go ahead and just anoint Sri Rao, King of All That Is AWESOME and be done with it!

Word to the effing word to both your columns this month ladies. I am all for any mention of how much better the interm HWs did during the strike than Guza AND explanations as to why the audience loves Sri more than the orginial recipie GH.

I also imagine him reading these columns in the magazines and throwing barware around in a Sonny-like fit of rage. I admit....its fun!

Is it me or are there an awfully lot of characters on GH? They are so many that sometimes stories don't seem to "flow" and momentum is lost for me because of the quick segments every other week and I'm not just b& moaning on their mnemonic pairings. I have become more 'character driven' because I long ago realized GH writes lousy love stories...once they are Guzified they are done and regulated to the mundane endless push/pull of nearly all couples going through his process "simultaneously." He simply can't do it and refuses to hire someone who can. I go to my awesome fan fiction authors for great love stories. So it doesn't matter.

Just find this show 50% boring..if I see it, I see it. If I don't... no big deal...for my coupledoms I watch their clips. I am not vesting anymore time hoping things will get better, its obvious, it won't.

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