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« Why Can't I Have Nice Things? | Main | Please Tell Me I'm Wrong »

March 23, 2010

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

My Take
By Mallory Harlen

Thanks to a promotional campaign that saw GENERAL HOSPITAL advertised on every possible channel, pretty much everyone I know saw the ads touting the soapy excitement of Sonny shooting his own son. All of them questioned the wisdom in explicitly spelling out a plot twist like that, and the ones who are familiar with GH questioned how Sonny could possibly come out of this situation smelling like a rose. One friend asked if Maurice Benard was leaving the show, and if a prison sentence would be Sonny’s exit story. I actually laughed at her, which I admit was rude, but how patently hilarious is that? Sonny, in jail! Too funny. When I tried to explain this to her, and all I could offer was a lame, “He won’t go to jail because he’s Sonny and, jail would be…bad for him? And he’s good? Even though he shot an unarmed cop in the chest,” I started to realize that the joke was on me.

Like so many things on this show (the return of Helena Cassadine, the character of Matt Hunter—he’s still a thing, right?), this story actually could have been really good.  All of the major players are capable of giving us powerhouse performances, especially Dominic Zamprogna (whose awesomeness I cannot overstate) and Lisa LoCicero (who plays the fiercely protective mother role to perfection).  On top of that, Sonny shooting Dante had storyline implications for almost everybody on canvas: Sonny, Olivia, Dante, Lulu, Jax, Carly.  Even the poor souls at the hospital were guaranteed a few cameo appearances while tending to Dante!

So, what went wrong? I mean, aside from the utter wrongness of the show’s leading man shooting an unarmed cop in the chest. Instead of presenting this as an opportunity for Sonny to spiral out of control with grief and remorse, we get Sonny ranting at Olivia about how it’s actually her fault that Dante was shot, since she didn’t give him the chance to be a part of Dante’s life. Memo to the GH writers: There are never any circumstances where the person who shot someone in the chest is less at fault for said shooting than somebody else. I guess it’s not surprising that Sonny’s first impulse was to make himself the wounded party, but it’s still unsettling. As is his repeated refrain, “I would never have shot him if I knew he was my son”, with “I’d shoot someone else’s unarmed son in a heartbeat, though, for sure,” implied at the end of that sentence. Why is Lulu the only one in Port Charles completely horrified by this? I guess I should be grateful that we even have one voice of reason…

The other problem is that we all know how this story is going to end: Sonny’s ridiculous legal maneuverings will work, he’ll be acquitted and he’ll have not one iota of personal growth. GH won’t let go of the notion that Sonny and Jason are good men, and even their murders aren’t as bad as the murders of other murderers (remember when Jason was plagued with self doubt about whether or not he was as bad as Franco? Yeah, neither do the writers), so really, we can just skip over all of this angst. Or at least tune it out while we imagine how great this story could have been.

My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas


I am not the most even-keeled person in the world. When I was growing up, my mother would frequently tell me to “stop having a tizzy” over one thing or another.  Therefore narcissism commands me to appreciate a dramatic overreaction, to enjoy over-the-top soapy histrionics.  So if I am crying uncle on this particular topic, you’ve probably gone too far. 

DAYS OF OUR LIVES overall has been great lately, but my goodness, I could do with less crying and screaming from Salem’s many put-upon female residents.  Carly’s return has driven some great stories, and I can totally understand the writers wanting to give Crystal Chappell as many opportunities as possible to show off her great dramatic repertoire.  However, has Carly gone through an episode yet without bawling or something close?  Killing Lawrence, giving up Melanie at birth, reuniting with Melanie, reuniting with Bo – take your pick.  Everything sets her off!  Hopefully soon Chappell will be given some lower-key material to rock for a while.  Carly is front-burner and I’m thrilled about that, but that could lead to audience burnout if Carly isn’t given some shades of gray.

Carly’s daughter, Melanie, appears to have inherited her birth mother’s propensity toward histrionics.  Melanie has always been, um, expressive.  But lately with her (ridiculously fast-developing and virtually baseless) romantic entanglements with Nathan and Phillip, her interactions with Carly before the mother/daughter reveal (all of the anger of which seemed forced and nonsensical, by the way) and after, I’ve started to wonder whether Melanie will ever get a chance to be a remotely normal – soap-normal, of course – college-aged woman.  It would be a nice change of pace.

In all of Salem, though, is there someone more in need of a chill pill than Sami Brady?  In the last couple of years, save for a few lovey-dovey moments between her and Rafe, has Sami gone a day with crying or screaming?  I have frequently honestly wondered whether Allison Sweeney – who is great in this role – has to just go home and talk about nothing but rainbows and puppies to escape whatever hell the script put Sami through that day.  It’s one crazily dramatic thing after the next, and while the crying and screaming are probably appropriate reactions to the tragedy at hand, could we not arrange for her to have fewer tragedies?  Or just space them out a bit?  DAYS has done a much better job of writing for the whole canvas lately, but somehow all the tragic moments are falling on the same characters.  Let’s spread the misery around! 

Comments

Mallory, excellent job as usual (Becca, you rock too, but in this case I don't watch DOOL). I really really REALLY hope Bob Guza & his team of idiots read your columns, because the crap they churn out continously astounds me and they need to be called out on it. I'm so done with this show, and officially deleted it from my Tivo last week. I still come to you awesome gals for updates & news (uh, WTF replacing Drew Garrett?), but I just can't take it any more. As you repeatedly say, we should be ENTERTAINED by television, it shouldn't stress us out. I'm constantly infuriated that in this economy, Guza has a job and other talented people do not.

Thanks to both of you for compensating for what GH can no longer do: entertain me. I'm just sorry you have to suffer to do it...

The comment was so correct, what are the writers of GH thinkig they had the cure and lost it. To shoot an unarmed policeman is not exceptable in any civilized world. BUT that world does not exist in PC, the glorifing of the mob has been the dowfall of GH, the constant s/l of evil beating good has become so boring, the viewers deserve so much better, that is why GH is loosing everyday. I must object to two statements, DZ was so real when he was introduced as Dante BUT turining him into another Sonny idol worshiper has made him a "JOKE" and the gold chains don't help, also the actress if you want to call her that is soooooooo unbelieable as Olivia I cannot help but think WHY WAS MEGAN WARD A VERY REAL ACTRESS REPLACED WITH THIS??? TPTB should look at when GH had HIGH VIEWRSHIP go no furthur then the Sonny & Kate, Jason & Elizabeth ect s/l. Mr Guza Mr Frons & Ms Phelps do not have a clue on what the fans of GH want they keep shoving trash down our throats. I would love to see Maxie, Lulu, at Crimson learning how to make it on their own something young women need to see today, instead of the tough-talking B- movie queens they are promoting, I only wish they see the light soon and "Stop this madness" or I do see GH's time slot being a new game show...

I think GH has lost the pulse of their audience and has for a very long time...some viewers I think just gave up...

I'd like for it to be more soapy with more possibilities for storylines instead I get characters stuck in a rut.

I'm enjoying DOL I just returned as a loyal viewer so I can't register complaints because I hadn't followed their stories for a long time...

Enjoying most of their storylines e.g., the Sami/Rafe/EJ triangle storyline and now that Nicole is out of prison what havoc she'll bring to the canvas. Also like the Bo/Hope/Justin/Carly storyline...really enjoyed Stuart Damon's run as the mayor.

I rarely watch ABC soaps so I'm just into Y/R, BB, DOL and online websiodes, fan fiction writing...I enjoy the flexibility of the writing, eg characters storylines. Where anything is possible...

Oops! I mean SD as Governor OOps!

Thankyou for a very entertaining and enlightening piece. It definitly opened my eyes to allot of things I had not thought of before.

I think GH has lost the pulse of their audience and has for a very long time...some viewers I think just gave up...

I'm enjoying DOL I just returned as a loyal viewer so I can't register complaints because I hadn't followed their stories for a long time...

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