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« This Is All Sorts of Subtle. The Anti Sort, In Particular | Main | My Eyes, My Eyes! or Who Is Too Big For Her Britches? »

November 19, 2010

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

My Take
By Mallory Harlen

Even though ALL MY CHILDREN and GENERAL HOSPITAL have far more misses than hits these days, all hope is not lost: Both shows have at least one storyline that is hitting the right notes.

I was a vocal critic of GH's story that saw Patrick cheat on Robin with Lisa. There was no plot buildup aside from "Well, this is the reason we brought Lisa to Port Charles last year, so..." It neatly undid all of the growth Patrick experienced on his journey from Lothario to family man, and using Robin's trip to Africa for AIDS research as a scapegoat for a one-night stand was all kinds of wrong. Consider me shocked, then, by how much I enjoyed the aftermath. Lisa's trip to the land of the crazies was ripped off from Fatal Attraction , but what a fun rip-off it was! Brianna Brown, clearly relishing the chance to do something besides tell college stories and smile blandly, has made Lisa's unraveling equal parts compelling and hilarious; her friendly, breezy, conversations with Patrick and Robin after instances of kidnapping and attempted murder are amazing. Jason Thompson (Patrick) and Kimberly McCullough (Robin) are reliably excellent, but the fallout from this affair has seen some of their best work yet, getting to play guilt, fury and grief. Fingers crosses that this gets them some recognition when award season rolls around! This story also incorporated the return of Michael Sutton as Stone Cates--a return that, unlike most of GH's big returns in the past few years, did not rewrite history or serve as an excuse to sing Jason and Sonny's praises. I honestly didn't think the GH writers had it in them!

Since Jonathan Jackson took over the role of Lucky, I had been eagerly anticipating a front-burner story. "Surely GH wouldn't squander the return of an Emmy-winning actor," I thought (they would). "Surely GH will give Lucky something to do besides roam around town like an extra," I thought (they wouldn't). Finally, after a year, the show has granted my wish and sent Lucky off to Ireland for an undercover operation. The circumstances that got him there are sort of murky and poorly written, and I lost interest in the mystery of The Balkan, almost immediately, but it's been fantastic to see Lucky portrayed as smart and competent, and to hear Jonathan Jackson bust out a surprisingly good Irish accent. With the introduction of Siobhan, we even got a cute romance out of it. This is the kind of story a legacy character should have!

Over in Pine Valley, JR and Annie are embroiled in a romance of their own and, in true soap fashion, it's so dysfunctional that it's mesmerizing. Sure, their hookup led to two divorces, and the fact that Annie was once married to JR's father adds a level of profound awkwardness to everything, but Jacob Young and Melissa Claire Egan have some of the best chemistry in soaps right now. Egan is probably one of my favorite daytime actresses right now: Annie does so many horrible, self-destructive things and I still can't help rooting for her. At this point, she's one of the only people in Pine Valley I am rooting for.

My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas

I know that some people have long-standing affection for soap characters.  I apparently do not.  Because there are a couple of characters on GENERAL HOSPITAL that I used to adore but now loathe.  Either I am completely impossible to please, or the writing for these folks is all over the place.  I think you know which alternative I (narcissistically) prefer, but let’s look at this more closely to be sure.

Maxie really grew on me.  I like Kirsten Storms, and once they got past Maxie’s PROJECT-RUNWAY-on-a-bad-day fashion period, and her unfortunate pill-providing affair with Lucky, Maxie’s adorable outfits and endearingly scattered self drew me in.  Her anguish over Georgie’s death was palpable and convincing.  But then, well, Spinelli happened.  Their incredibly annoying “romance” and non-marriage (with the exception of the rather charming non-wedding), Maxie’s affair with Franco, and her increasing resemblance to the shrieking harpy eras of Carly (note: this is almost every era) did me in.  I find pretty much everything she does now annoying.  Her campaign to keep Spinelli away from Brenda?  I actually want her to fail, and on the list of things I want to happen on GH, Spinelli having numerous scenes with Brenda is somewhere between “Jason becomes mayor” and “Sonny is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”  (Note to GH powers-that-be:  These are not plot suggestions.  Though I can understand why you may be confused.)  Why can’t Maxie be fun again?  Why can’t she detach from the ridiculous caricature Spinelli permanently?  Why can’t we have nice things, dear readers?

Speaking of Brenda, she’s on the list too.  I loved her in the 90s (though my affection doesn’t nearly rival Mallory’s, who I think may have a Brenda Halloween costume stashed somewhere in her basement), and I still really like Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo, but oh my gosh, GH is like an old horror movie:  Brenda Eats Port Charles.  She is on all  the time.  She’s involved with everyone.  I am all for story integration, but this is just a little ridiculous.  I shouldn’t be surprised by this development on a show that alternates show-eating among three or four (depending on who Jason is sleeping with) characters, but I really hoped they’d do better with Marcil Giovinazzo’s return.  I often want to yell at the screen, “It’s not all about you, Brenda!”  But that is squarely at odds with all the writing.  (Plus I generally try to avoid talking to my TV.)


Another one for the GH “Don’t actors get vacation, because this character has been onscreen for 72 straight episodes” file is Dante.  I really liked Dante initially and Dominic Zamprogna is undeniably great, but I could really do without a week or so of this descent into Mafia-dom.  It’s a good thing this former favorite of mine, now an irksome omnipresent character isn’t on an obvious collision course for a history-laden storyline with another one mentioned above – one like, for instance, Brenda? – that will consume months of episodes and the rest of my soap-related sanity, or anything.  
 

Comments

Siobhan's accent is effing horrible and she makes Lucky's scenes unwatchable.

How about adding Sonny to your list of characters we need a break from. Dimples aside, his ego, stuttering, and forever checking the cue cards are tiresome.

I really hate all these newbies but especially Siobhan, someone on another site described her as an "Irish Olivia, all up in people's faces, telling everyone how feisty and spicy she is." She's an annoying one-note character for me. Claire (who had so much potential and is now just sad and pathetic) and Siobhan's screen time, should be given to Sam, Elizabeth, Alexis, Maxie, etc anyone but them!

I like Lucky and am thrilled that he has a story and I miss his Irish accent. Siobhan is okay, I like her well enough, but I have doubts about where this goes in the future.

I keep changing my opinion of Maxie. I like her when she isn't around Spinelli. I'd like to see her more with Mac and Robin and Matt or Lucky.

Unlike most other Scrubs fans, I'm liking their current story. I am always glad when they actually have a story. Jason and Kimberly are great and I like that they get to do something different here.

My fondest wish is Jason, Sonny and Carly dying and therefore not eating the show. Now Brenda is doing the same. She doesn't need to die, but maybe leave town. I have never watched Dante much. Once he was connected to Sonny and no longer wanted Sonny dead and/or behind bars, he was lost to me.

Becca - I love that in your column you actually warned the GH powers that be not to misunderstand your sarcasm for praise. Awesome!

"Siobhan's accent is effing horrible and she makes Lucky's scenes unwatchable."

AGREED!!

I heard Brenda's name was mentioned 38 times in one episode. If there is a drinking game out there, I'd be flat on the floor.

Lucky's romance might be cute, if the girl wasn't a shrew, and if it made you know sense. Lucky went from having a six month long meltdown over the Niz affair to jumping emotionally and physically into another relationship with a woman he barely knows. I would have thought given his history he would have been more careful.

It's unfortunate, that the writers didn't bother to create a romance for him, with an actress he had chemistry with, a character that didn't have violent mood swings, or a character that was you know, likeable in any sense of the word.

I mean the best I can say about her, is that she is not Liz.

"I mean the best I can say about her, is that she is not Liz."

HA. In my book that is MORE than enough reason for me to like her. At least for now.

I have not seen a couple with the caliber of chemistry between Jacob Young/Melissa Claire Egan (JR/Annie) since the 1980's! Whatever else the writers are doing wrong over in PV, the Annie/JR storyline is the one bright shining star in their line up. The story is classic soap opera -- a couple who started out detesting each other, going through the full story arc of hatred to lust to denial to emotional connection to love. It has been a very long journey for JR/Annie, but it is high time that the soap gods finally let them be together! They absolutely combust every time they are in the same room together, and yet ABC is giving them hardly any promo's. The ABC Exes need to get a clue and start promo'ing this very popular, incendiary couple, who both have great acting chops to boot!

The only reason i retruned to AMC was becaue of the PARING of ANNIE/JR, i am a JY fan and i could not watch him another minute with that boring useless Carey clone they placed him with, JR should never ever be placed with a CARAY again in this soap lifetime. JMO. the JR/ANNIE sl has kept me glued to the tv,JY/MCE make you belive they are TRUE SOULMATES, the GOOD, THE BAD , AND THE UGLY,,, and I LIKE IT, say what you want about them, but what you see is what you get, not the HYPOCRITES that are walking around PV right now,i will root for them EVERYDAY of the week over the others, Marissa being the biggest one of ALL, SCOTT anyone? yet they burn JR/ANNIE at the stake for even LOOKING at each other, WHATEVA, anyway they are the only REAL reason i put up with this crapfest. and dont even get me started on this CONTRIVED CUSTODY BATTLE, repeat repeat THREEPEAT..rinse already AND LET it wash away....Jmo

Am I the only one that fast-forwards through two thirds of the show? My husband laughs that I only watch scenes with Robin, Jason, Crazy-ass Lisa, and Lucky. Oh, and I stop and rewind a Sonny/Brenda scene if a flashback comes up. But other than that, I can finish an epsiode in 15-20 minutes. I COMPLETELY agree that Brenda is eating the show. Do you think Vanessa is reading her script saying, "I came back for this?" or is she enjoying the ridiculous amount of time people spend talking, thinking, dreaming, remembering her. I too used to be in love with Brenda, but now all I hear is cackling (sp?) and I am forced to watch her scarily-skinny body disappear. Oh GH, why can't I quit you???

I am a Scrubs fan and I have to admit that as much as I don't love their current s/l, I can't say I hate it either. My favorite aspect hands down being Kimberly McCullough's performance! She's always been outstanding, but with this current material she's had a chance to show her stuff again and she hasn't disappointed. Every tear, eye roll, raised voice and sigh has been unbelievably accurate and as usual she's been great with all her partners from JT, BB, KS, JJY, JC, SB to VMG. Based on Robin's scenes alone (the quality and quantity), this s/l was well worth it to me.

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