Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
By Mallory Harlen
I've spilled a lot of virtual ink complaining about how little the writers of GH know about the legal system. The only thing they manage to get right is that trials have a judge and a jury, and even that they seem sort of shaky on (seriously, Coleman sitting on Sonny's jury is so ludicrous that it doesn't even deserve a sarcastic comment). And I complained early and often about Sonny's trial and its complete lack of suspense. It seems unnecessary to focus so much attention on a story where we can already figure out the ending. It also seems unnecessary to have so many characters knowingly and willingly commit perjury as if it were a noble action, but that's a rant for another time.
So it may seem crazy and hypocritical to be disappointed that the show turned down the chance to have another trial, but I am: Kiefer dying and not facing any repercussions for his abuse of Kristina is a seriously lame move. Why does everyone who leaves Port Charles exit in a body bag? And how have the writers lasted so long in the soap genre without knowing the word "payoff"? The audience watched this story brew for months, in brutal detail, and now we're cheated out of seeing actual justice for Kristina. Instead, we're given Alexis in another vehicular manslaughter story. I know I always ask for more Nancy Lee Grahn; I guess I should probably make sure that I include the phrase "in good storylines" when I make those wishes. Whole Grahn and Lexi Ainsworth (Kristina) have been completely stellar, I feel that they'd be equally compelling in a story where Kristina got to confront Kiefer for his abuse and have him admit to beating her. But the writers, as they so often do, opted out of being entertaining and just chose the easiest way out: killing someone off and then checking in on how it affects Sonny.
AMC spins a much better legal story. The writers made the downright soapy decision to use David's trial to add new life to stale stories and characters. After months, Jamie Luner (Liza) has finally hit her stride in Pine Valley. She's pretty much perfect as a brash and ambitious lawyer, which makes me sad all over again that the show (mis-)cast her as Liza and not someone new in town. And Greenlee's bombshell testimony reignited her feud with Erica and completely set fire to her relationship with Ryan. Greenlee and Erica's sniping lately has been dull and sophomoric, but Greenlee coldly accusing Kendall of murder has raised the stakes considerably. Erica is at her best when she is righteously (as opposed to self-righteously) angry. The trial has also softened David considerably. After too many months as the show's over-the-top evil mastermind, we're now getting to see, with his desire to protect Greenlee, that he's not completely dastardly. Just mostly dastardly.
There's even future storyline potential for Kendall should Alicia Minshew return to the show, since the authorities want to question her for the attempted murder of Greenlee. Which was an accident...that occurred in Connecticut, way out of Pine Valley's jurisdiction. So many AMC isn't that much better than GH in terms of legal accuracy. Will ABC Daytime not spring for a legal consultant?
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
My shows are not excelling with their teen stories lately, to say the least. DAYS is seriously plumbing the depths of boredom with theirs, and GH's powers-that-be appear to have decided to start taking apart one of the few things on the show that was working by rearranging their teen cast.
In the interest of full disclosure, teen storylines were never the reason I tuned in to soaps, even when I was a teen. I started watching DAYS in junior high because one of my friends was crazy about Steve and Kayla--the supercouple that was many years our senior. Later, I adored the younger Port Charles residents when I started watching GH in college in the early '90s (I suspect the presence of Antonio Sabato Jr. heavily influenced this opinion), but that's the last time I can remember caring much about the not-legal-to-drink crowd in a soap town.
I also realize that I, at 35, am not the target for these teen storylines. But good storytelling shouldn't be about the age of the characters or the viewers. Case in point: Michael Corinthos III over the last year or so. He was in many ways an infuriating teenager, but Drew Garrett was so stellar, especially in scenes with his on-screen mom and dad, that I really rooted for the character. But since this is GH in a year that begins in "20," Michael killed someone. That storyline and the fallout I probably could have dealt with (what can I say, GH has worn me down with all the violence), but then GH made and uncharacteristic casting error by letting Drew Garrett go. Nothing against Chad Duell, but to me, Drew Garrett was a fantastic Michael. GH had a solid element with its kids, and I'm unclear what direction they're headed in.
By no means a solid element are the underage Salemites. Sigh. DAYS needs serious help in this area (and in very few others, for which I'm thankful as a viewer, but kind of annoyed as a cranky critic). At this point they should just scrap every character under 20 and start over. Gabi is so dull I can't even remember a single thing she's done. The character of Mia is headed out of town, which is fine by me. I found her annoying as the downtrodden pregnant teen, and I found her even more annoying when the writers decided they needed a mean girl and instead of bringing one onto the canvas, they turned Mia into one. Bitchy Mia never seemed authentic, and I could not possibly have cared less about her relationship with Chad or her other one with Will. Oh, Will. I'm a long-time soap viewer, so I can not only tolerate but even embrace recasts, but at what point does it get ridiculous that we can't seem to go six months without getting a new Will? Though now that I think about it, I know of a certain actor who would make a delightful Will Roberts No. 84. Hint: Rhymes with "Grew Darrett."