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« I Could Run Through A Glass To Be With You | Main | Presented Without Comment »

May 30, 2013

But What Will His Canvas Be Now (Besides Terrible)?!

If you've been fortunate enough to have missed any of General Hospital this week and have no idea what's going on, your luck's about to run out because I'm going to quickly recap (because if I have to suffer, we all should!): rather than bring Roger Howarth back as literally any other character in General Hospital history or in the imaginations of the writing staff (LITERALLY any other character. ANY ONE. Steven Webber. Tom Hardy, the fictional doctor. Tom Hardy, a fictionalized version of the British actor. Casey the Alien. Casey The Alien's cousin Pacey. Serena Baldwin. ANY ONE!), the decision was made to bring him back as Franco, daytime's most popular genius artist/serial murderer whose stint on this show amounted to a bulleted list of completely criminal and unforgivable misdeeds mixed with embarrassing performance art and a vibe of deeply uncomfortable weirdness.

I know what you're thinking: "Mallory, are you having a fever dream. Because every word you just typed is pretty ludicrous". I totally agree with you.

And I know what you're thinking now, too (I'm slightly psychic): "But...he was so terrible and there's absolutely no way to redeem him, so bringing him back and trying to make him a viable character is--" Is kind of impossible? Is that how you were going to end that sentence? I know, it seems like it's kind of impossible. I was worried about that, too; how on earth do you expect a character to stick around town when he's drugged people arranged rapes and faked rapes and kidnapped babies and basically sexually harassed Jason whenever he got the chance and also MURDERED A LOT OF PEOPLE? 

Well, the writers have thought of that: a lot of it never happened. Franco just made people think that it happened and he totally has proof, you guys! He has DVD evidence! Let's all watch the DVDs, which all include a musical break in which Franco performs Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" and okay, that didn't actually happen (but you know James Franco's Franco TOTALLY would have taken it there in spoken word form). Yeah, that song popped in my head when Franco popped open his first DVD and now it is stuck in there on an endless loop. I hope you're happy, Ron Carlivati. You have me singing Shaggy.

Franco: I don't mean to hurt you. Just trying to hurt Jason because he rejected me. You're safe, you know. Not gonna touch you. But Jason will always wonder if I have. I'm so sorry. I didn't rape you. But I am so sorry that I let you think that I had.


Carter: Okay, I got it.
Franco: No, you don't got it. You don't got it, Carter. You don't got it.
Carter: You just told me to do a number on this kid.
Franco: That was solely for my brother's benefit. I'm making this so that I can torture Jason. The goal is to hurt Jason. Never Michael. NEVER Michael. Do you understand? Say that you understand.
Carter: I understand.
Franco: You don't touch Michael. Just the opposite. You do everything you can to protect Michael.

Bygones to infinity! Not only is he NOT a rape procurer, he is a kind-hearted person who doesn't want to see anything bad happen to Michael! All misdeeds forgiven! Even the murders, because you know there are probably DVDs of him clearly trying to prevent all of the murders he committed but he keeps getting hampered by some guy in a mask, like a villain on Scooby do. Let's decide who we'd like to see him couple up with, amirite?

 Franco: I thought I could control Carter, but I was wrong. I made a mistake! I thought Carter was going to protect him. Instead, it turns out he was a sexual predator. I was just as horrified as you were when I found out.

He was horrifed, you guys! The bygones continue! I was going to say that maybe Franco should have found out what the hell Carter was in prison for before he sent him on this terrible mission because the guy LOOKED unstable and unsavory, but then I realized that I had to stop thinking about this because thinking make me HATE THINGS.

I cannot.

I also CANNOT with the fact that this is a show that made me think to myself, "Well, on the bright, at least Lulu wasn't raped!" That is our bright side: kidnapping and utter terror. Fantastic. I will say that I got a little misty when Lulu's memories came back and think that Emme Rylan is really doing a wonderful job, but I can't say much more than that because my brain has fried a little on account of everything I've written above.

And I will say that if I were forced to give the show the tiniest sliver of credit for anything today, I'd give the most begrudging of props to the Michael/Franco scenes for giving us some pretty fantastic performances. Sean Kanan and Chad Duell were phenomenal and I don't just mean this moment:

Michael: The first thing you should know is that I spent some time in Pentonville.
AJ: You went to PRISON?! [Looks around the room, like, "What the fuck kind of scoundrels raised this kid?!"] When?! [Silently prays that it wasn't when he was like twelve]. For what?! [Hopes it wasn't murder but knows it was probably murder, because this IS General Hospital so of course it was]

Although it did make me laugh. They were great and Laura Wright yelling always makes my day. Everything else makes me want to shower. Or drink Drano.


I could barely watch this show from the moment it became clear who RH was playing. Have cringed through this past week's episodes. They have taken Roger Howarth, the most charmingly offbeat character actor on the show, and made him play FRANCO? The most bizarre (and bizarrely dull, somehow), sadistic, repulsive, unsympathetic character in the GH repertoire. Why? Why, why, WHY?

I totally echo every one of these sentiments, Mallory. Seriously. Of all the characters, villain or otherwise, to make RH play. If they were that set on KA and RH as daughter and father again (which is fine), why not make them Cassadines? Or Scorpios? Or part of the Jax family, or any other character--seriously, name one (ANY character) but this one.

There is no way. There is no going back with this franco character, scriptwriters. None. His very name makes me want to gag, it's so utterly self indulgent. Seriously. I loathed every single aspect of this character. Every ONE. Also: secondary reality check showrunners, the dvd party was not redemptive. 'Franco'. Making Sam believe he raped her is nearly as bad as an actual rape. Franco telling Creepy Prison Guy 'be creative' but 'protect Michael' still holds both culpability and liability for what happened to Michael, doubly so given the way he gleefully lorded it over Jason. This qualifies under the title psycho-sexual abuse. No viewer, in the history of ever, (even in soapland where viewers are routinely willing to accept characters coming back from the dead) will be willing to root for this character.

Why, showrunners, WHY? Seriously, you could put a blond wig on RH and call him Heather Webber and I would accept that recast more willingly than I accept this one. It is repulsive. I am mortified for poor Mr Howarth who is doing the very best he can with an absolutely horrifying task. In one fell swoop the new writers managed to muck things up in ways that even Guza et all didn't manage. Guza might have hoisted Franco on us, but at least he didn't turn him into a bloody hero. Look what they've made me do, defending Mr Guza. My head hurts. UGH!

Dear GH writers: please fix this! Even if it means getting rid of this Franco character (again.) and recasting RH as Jason. They are twins, after all. I wouldn't be thrilled to have Mr Morgan back on the canvas, but even that would be better than this. It's the only way I can come up for them to fix this convoluted mess.

One more silver lining (at least on a personal note); you wonderful ladies aka Serial Drama got a shout out from a poster on Soapcentral.com complete with link about this storyline. Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, the viewer reaction appears to be fairly universal; they hate it with the passion of a thousand suns or they hate it with the passion of a dwarf star. The sad part is I can't blame the usual suspects (Phelps/Guza/Frons). The only people I can blame are the ones who not that long ago were being touted as GH saviors.

A friend of mine pointed out all of the horrific things done by Luke, Carly, Sonny, Sam, Jason, Jerry, Helena, Faison, Tracy, AJ, Scotty, Lulu, etc,,,and told me that Franco is just par for the course. We (soap fans) love our villains and bad guys to the point that we'll forgive a man raping a teenage girl on the floor, a drunk killing a child and shrugging it off, a woman terrorizing a mother and her children, a son shooting his father in the back, and a woman withholding heart medication from her father. Franco will end up saving the life of one the characters that he terrorized and all will be forgiven. As my friend stated, we're all outraged now about RoHo playing Franco, but just like with Luke killing Jake, the show will go on until GH is cancelled down the road.

Yes, it was creepy and weird but Kelly Monico was great at the end. Her performance and that punch to the face for Franco was great. Sonny was a lame ineffectual loud mouth as usual. Not how I wanted to get Roger back but I love having him back.

I'm hoping that Ron is doing another bluff like he did with Faux Duke. Remember when we all thought that RC was the worst EVER for writing Duke all wrong when he came back and it turned out that was the point since it was actually Faison. I'm hoping that somehow this will end up somehow not being Franco.

I'm probably going to end up being disappointed.

This episode was truly horrible. I got nothin' else.

@ladybug, I definitely get what you're saying with the list of GH 'heroes' who have done reprehensible things, but the difference in my mind is those are established characters whose likeable traits outweigh the occasional admittedly horrible wrong decision. And I mean, I think we can all agree (rightly or wrongly) soap opera viewers love a loveable badboy or a tortured anti hero. Case in point: Luke, who *raped* Laura, is seen as the show's longest running and most popular anti hero. See also: Sonny Corinthos, and even Duke. The difference for most people between these characters and Franco (or even Franco and Jerry Jax) is that Franco was established in his first appearance as a psychotic in the Ted Bundy sense of the word, who didn't just make the odd bad decision or two, who didn't struggle with the desire for money verses the desire to do what was right. Franco was established as a character whose bad behavior wasn't just a one-off. A character for whom rape, violence, and sadism were a delightful game. How are viewers supposed to root for this character, short of a total personality transplant rendering him completely inculpable of everything he'd done previously, a-la Jason's gunshot wound?

@Ladybug, people are still pissed to this day for what Luke did to Jake. Not to mention, TG's adlib drinking scenes don't help. People still hate Sam for terrorizing Liz in the park, hell, Liz still gets hate for even daring to have sex with Jason and giving birth to his son. And to this day, people have told me that the last straw in firing Guza was killing off Jake due to the extreme outrage. True or not, the timing was hella coincidental.

So, I have to say as a fan, to think that we'll all just continue to accept whatever "crap" we're given is a bit insulting if it's coming from a writer's perspective. It shows what little to no respect they have for their audience.

And not for nothing, but I know many a folks cheered when Jason was rolled into the harbor because the mob and "Jason the Saint" ate the show for so many years. The thing that rattles most, and I don't speak for all but most I've spoken too, is that Ron and Frank were supposed to generate a CHANGE from the past. A change from Sonny/Carly/Jason being at the forefront and portraying them as GOOD while anyone against them was BAD or HARMFUL. Instead, they only replaced them with their own 3 core who've taken over the show, and with horrific storytelling to boot as we now have a whitewashed Franco who will be sure to eat up screentime. If there were any faith in actual character development, I'm sure more people would be forgiven.

But there won't be, so I foresee people remaining just as angry as they are now, unless they just tune out for good.

Seriously, it is so bad. FRANCO, of all the awesome people they could have picked! I like imagining how Roger Howarth reacted when they told him the news. In my mind he's like, "Wait, can't I just be Jason? What about Alan? Can I be Alan? No? Stavros? Lucky? Lisa? Reginald? Anyone?"

I mean, it was so good for awhile there! What happened?!? Sniffle.

did you see my franco spoiler for next week

angelic franco saves 100 orphans from fire that is 10 floors upduring a blizzard at night wearing no shoes carly on his back with his hands tied up

i wish we could play a dvd that would erase roger from gh all together

this stuff on gh is sick

I just realized that I'm feeding the pig with all of the Franco comments. So, here is my attempt at not even mentioning Franco until the character dies a fiery death at the hands of the entire town!

Yes, the return of Franco is a terrible storyline development. But it is one of numerous mistakes made over the past month. The GH ptb completely undermined the extraordinary momentum and squandered the good will generated by extremely smart, and historically-rooted 50th anniversary programming. The momentum and good will were generated by wisely-used returning characters like Anna, Robert, Duke, Faison, Laura, Scotty, Frisco, Felicia, Lucy, Kevin, Brenda...Characters virtually erased from the canvas for May Sweeps Month.

We lost Anna and Laura for the completely atrocious "acting" of the new Morgan, certainly the worst new "actor" to debut on GH in a long time. We lost Anna and Laura for May Sweeps programming the insensitivity of which really kind of boggles the mind. The "no I really didn't rape you" development between Sam and Franco was horrifying.

But there was a bit of light in the darkness. A complete "work" on the audience by the writers would have required that Sam forgive Franco. She did not. She bopped him and sent him off to prison. So I am torn. Is the Franco reveal the absolute worst possible decision made by Frank and Ron? Or is there more here? Because it does not seem like this Franco will be forgiven. It seems as though this might be a con job. It seems as though this character could be set up to be killed and GH have a really first-rate murder mystery. Am I seeing clues that aren't really there? I am just not totally convinced that we are going to get a Franco revisionism but, perhaps, instead a Franco con job on all the assembled future suspects that will be found out and dealt with, fatally. Maybe I am giving the current GH power-brokers too much credit. But maybe not. At one point Maura West was reportedly short-term. Now she is reportedly on contract. Were they setting up Ava as a murder victim and now have changed their minds? As this set up for Franco seems to scream MURDER MYSTERY.

I don't know. I am not ready to bail just yet. I have to believe that Frank and Ron have a turn in store for us, and that Roger's Franco may be killed for storyline purposes (when was the last time we had a really good murder mystery?) and he will return as that triplet so many of us hoped for. For surely, they could NOT have SO MISJUDGED the audience and so cavalierly squandered all the momentum and good will built up for the 50th. They aren't THAT arrogant, are they? Are they?

By the way, LOVE this site and the always great commentary!

...But, I just read that Danny is going to develop an illness next week, so...I guess Franco to the rescue after all, as the chld's closest paternal genetic match. Maybe the GH execs really ARE that arrogant, after all. If so, sad, sad, sad.

GH's place in the ratings -- with the key demographic -- has already been overtaken in May by Days. Not a Days fan but the previews of the sweeps storylines in Salem sounded pretty amazing and explosive, in dramatically acceptable and satisfying ways. So, only way GH ptp will "get it" is when ratings talk. As I say, sad, sad, sad.

*I am breaking my self imposed Franco rant*...lol.

@Tristan, Franco was already dead, before RC/FV decided to bring the character back to life! Sam and Michael could have received those DVD's in the mail from Franco's mother, with the poor woman disgusted by her son's actions, instead of bringing Franco back to life.

Roho could have played Dr. Steven Lars Webber and still interacted with Heather/RM. Ava could have been an ex of Steven Lars who drops a bomb on him that they had a child years ago named Katherine (Kiki) if the show just had to have RoHo/KA as father and daughter or RoHo could have been a Cassadine.

This might be a minor issue, but remember how Maxie and Franco slept together when Franco first came on the show? Now that Franco is Roger Howarth... he's like 20 years older than Kirsten Storms! And the blond hair just makes him look older because it looks so fake.

I'm really not sure how I feel about this storyline right now. I'm telling myself to give it a chance, but I'm not exactly optimistic about it right now.

Serial Drama as usual, is able to make all this Franco dreck at least a great read in the commentary. Thanks, Mallory, for being the only bright light in this surreal downturn into darkness, this psychotic ride Ron C. has decided to take the audience on.
EXCEPT that some of us aren't getting on this train anymore. I love RH and am glad I'll be able to see him every now and then on the OLTL reboot, but I won't be watching GH for a while. If it was only this horrid decision, then the FF would resolve that particular problem. But currently GH is not only unwatchable it's strayed into offensive. And it takes a whole lot for me to feel any offense from a soap. But Ron C. has managed it. If and when TIIC decide that "funny" rape storylines aren't such a hoot, then even the incomparable Jane Elliott and Finola Hughes can't make this palatable.

I don't even know what to say about any of this. Mallory, you basically said everything there is to say. This is just...wow.

Ron C. and crew had made such significant progress in undoing a lot of the wrongs that Guza foisted upon the viewers during his reign. This whole Franco thing practically erases all of that, it's so heinous and vile. Do they really expect people to root for this character, to forget all of the awful things he's done? Laura Wright has been extremely vocal about wanting to work with Roger Howarth. Are they really going to cater to her, given the circumstances? I know this is Carly we're talking about, but even I can't believe she would willingly get involved with the man responsible for her son's rape, no matter how much time has passed.

I'm glad that this storyline seems to be universally reviled...hopefully RC will take notice and either drop it or re-retcon it. This show is turning itself inside out just to prop three favorite characters/actors...sounds familiar, doesn't it? We spent years having the heroism of Sonny, Jason, and Carly shoved down out throats, but at least the three of them had some (though very few and rarely shown) redeemable qualities. Franco is Charles Manson levels of dangerous, crazy, and vile. This is a flavor of Kool-Aid I will never be able to drink.

Bringing back RH as Franco has to be the worst idea by GH since the Luke/Jake fiasco. I would have preferred RH coming back as Justus Ward to this rubbish. It's a crazy idea, but at least Justus was a decent man. Franco is a sick SOB doesn't matter who plays him. I am not sure how GH will fix this but they better figure it out fast.

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