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« Restless Bile | Main | This Hour Could Be Better Spent Doing Anything, Including Staring at a Wall »

March 04, 2008

Oh, They're "Special" Alright

I kind of wanted to title this post "It's Still the Writing, Stupid," but I decided that as a really official and important member of the media I should avoid appearing Clintonian on this critical election day.  Therefore you got the sarcastic use of quotation marks.  Campaigns are truly draining. 

So, in case you are smarter than I am and are not watching General Hospital these days, you should know that you are missing out on some "unbelievable" special effects.  Poor Bradford Anderson was forced to refer to them as such while pimping a special behind-the-scenes look this Wednesday at how the magic happens.  I would prefer a special behind-the-scenes peek at how exactly the showrunners and head writer manage to perennially remain in a posture of cranial-rectal inversion, myself.  That would be eye-opening.

Anyway, Diego the Suddenly Undead Serial Killer's crappy rental car crashed and dangled off a bridge.


Aren't you terrified by the really real realism?


Are you on the edge of your seat?


Doesn't this totally make up for the fact that this show hasn't had a great story arc since at least before Britney and Justin broke up?


You totally thought this was shot on location, didn't you?


Seriously, are you wowed by those effects?  If so, I'm so sorry that you haven't been to the movies in the last 20 years.  They've been doing some great things with their magic cameras.

You know who is wowed by these effects, and others like them, though?  The people in charge of General Hospital.  Of fucking course.  To wit, from the February 19th issue of Soap Opera Digest:

[ABC Daytime President Brian Frons] first joined forces with Stargate while overseeing SOAPnet's GH companion, NIGHT SHIFT.  "They were the guys that brought us across the harbor to actually see downtown Port Charles for the first time," he explains.  "[They] digitally crafted the General Hospital tower, which we had never seen before, and of course, they were the ones that made the city of Port Charles appear at dawn from the roof of the hospital."

And in November, Stargate was responsible for that eye-popping footage of Jason navigating his boat through stormy waters as Spoon Island and its eerie residence, Wyndemere, loomed in the background.  "We had a boat and we had Jason," says Frons.  "Everything else -- the rain, the island, Wyndemere -- was done digitally."  The results were impressive.  "When they cut to Spoon Island, it looked like something out of a great, cool, old, scary horror flick!"  raves [TV Guide soap columnist Michael] Logan.  "It was flawless."

First of all, these quotes are actually incredibly entertaining if you read them with the voice that Michael Bay uses while mocking himself in those Verizon FIOS commercials, calling everything "awesome" in an exaggerated valley accent.  Second of all, like most insane things, these statements need to be closely studied. 

"[T]he General Hospital tower, which we had never seen before."

Let's ooh and aah like we're apparently supposed to over the amaaaazing shot in question from Night Shift, shall we?


Wow, we have NEVER seen that tower before.  Never.  Definitely not every day for 35 years or anything.


This guy doesn't even watch the shows he's in charge of, does he? At least there does appear to be some consistency from the GH higher-ups.  That being "if it happened before we got here, it's garbage."  See also Luke and Laura, the Quartermaines, and aversion to weekly homicides.

"[O]f course, they were the ones that made the city of Port Charles appear at dawn from the roof of the hospital."

Of course.



Let me just take this opportunity to say, on behalf of those of us who suffered through the inexplicably highly rated Night Shift:  1) those effects were about as realistic as Posh Spice's boobs (critical difference:  she's still awesome), and 2) you know what they should have spent that time and money on instead of special effects?

  • decent dialogue writers
  • haircuts for Steve Burton, Dominic Rains, and Bradford Anderson
  • story arcs that actually made sense
  • a consultant specializing in any of the following:  medical accuracy, time continuity, how not to suck

"'We had a boat and we had Jason,' says Frons.  'Everything else -- the rain, the island, Wyndemere -- was done digitally.'  The results were impressive."

I checked, and according to dictionary.com, "impressive" does not have an alternate meaning that is roughly equivalent to "absolute ass."  So I'm confused.  Not as confused as Mr. Frons, though, who apparently thinks it will come as a great surprise to everyone that the rain, Spoon Island, and Wyndemere were created on one of them there fancy computin' machines.



I know I was mesmerized by the realism of the journey of Jason the ArgoNot.

"'When they cut to Spoon Island, it looked like something out of a great, cool, old, scary horror flick!'  raves Logan.  'It was flawless.'"


First, by definition, shouldn't expensive, modern special effects look nothing like something out of an old horror flick?  Also, I will momentarily act as counsel for the words "great," "cool," and "flawless" and register an official objection at their inclusion in any sentence related to that hot mess of graphics above.

Honestly, FLAWLESS?!  I hate it when nobody reminds me it's opposite day.


Please don't misunderstand me; I am NOT saying that soaps should really work on their special effects.  I actually love the cheesiness of soap sets and effects -- they're part of the genre!  My issue with these effects is that they are this huge, expensive, in-your-face reminder that the people who run these shows have no clue what they're doing, or at least are completely unwilling to acknowledge that the writing is what really needs work. 

Can you imagine if the GH powers-that-be put half the effort into plotting out a sweeps arc that they did into hanging that economy car off a virtual Erector Set?   The results could be impressive!  Great!  Cool!  Flawless!  For reals.

Screencaps courtesy of Clarissa.


Please fire Robert Guza. Please.

Now that my PSA is out of the way, lets talk special effects. Let talk about how the budget for shooting Jason in the boat did not seem to include making the rainy sky, um, cloudy.

You would think these people would get a clue by now that hammy special effects aren't going to win back the millions of viewers that have fled during the Frons/JFP/Guza Reign of Terror. What do they think this is going to accomplish? Bringing in a new generation of viewers? That clearly isn't working and didn't the first few times they tried. Somehow it's ok that Lucky was shot, Liz and Sam have been getting slapped around by an undead person and Jason is the hero again because look at that really "unbelieveable" car hanging over that really "unbelieveable" bridge near that really "unbelieveable" river!

I have to agree with Spinelli. These effects ARE unbelievable.

It's UNBELIEVABLE that a major network is televising these effects in 2008.

It's UNBELIEVABLE that this once-great show has fallen so far from the days of Robin and Stone, Quartermaine Thanksgivings, the Nurses' Ball...

It's UNBELIEVABLE that these effects aren't an early April Fool's Day joke.

It's UNBELIEVABLE that I keep watching through unmitigated boredom!

It's UNBELIEVABLE that Guza is employed in a career that would otherwise require literacy!

Although I agree with all of this.... could you please write about what a bitch Robin was yesterday -- I mean I couldn't wait 'til they brought her back.... until they did.... and now I have no idea why anybody likes her -- she has no redeeming qualities

I have to disagree with that Robin comment. I have always loved her and still do. Granted the writers suck pretty bad and haven't written her in character as much as I'd like, but if I were in her position basically having been crapped on by someone who is supposed to "love" me, who waited one whole breath before sleeping with someone else, I wouldn't be too thrilled with him and be treating him so wonderfully either.

Oh. My. Lord. I just......what do y'all reckon is keeping Michael Logan on ABC Daytime's side? I mean, what could they have to blackmail him that would be THAT bad? Photographic evidence of a predilection for donkeys and midgets simultaneously? I mean, I've seen more realistic castles in the old He-Man cartoons, and don't EVEN get me started on Jason's Miami Vice moment.....

Furthermore, um, is that not supposed to be the bridge from which Jason disposed of Lorenzo? And he's concerned Lorenzo might have survived the forty million story fall....you know, after being shot, as well? I guess we know who Patrick handed the Stupid Stick off to once he was done...

There is a lot to be said about Robin's characterization lately--why don't we head over to the forums to discuss? This way, we can keep the comments here focused on the unmitigated dumbassedness of Frons & Co.

Spoon Island seriously looks like a screencap from some 80s afternoon cartoon. I half expect to see Scrooge McDuck waving from one of the windows.

I think it is very telling that the idiots in charge think that soap opera fans are interested in how they did the special effects for this stupid story line. It's just another indication that Frons and company do not know their audience.

Even if the effects were awesome (instead of unbelievable)why would we care? If I were following this story, which I am not, I would be more interested in how the accident affects all the characters, not how great the CGI operator is.

I can't help but think that Frans and Guza are targeting their soaps to teen-aged boys, rather than women of all ages, who have traditionally been the prime soap audience.

To me, the real problem is that I see these nice tall buildings and bridges and castles and whatnot, and the only thought that goes through my mind when a character is on top of them is, "JUMP! For the love of Soap Operas, JUMP!"

"I would prefer a special behind-the-scenes peek at how exactly the showrunners and head writer manage to perennially remain in a posture of cranial-rectal inversion, myself. That would be eye-opening."

I'd take the day off from work and pop popcorn in anticipation of that behind-the-scenes special.

And Alice, you hit it right on the head. And I think the reason why they target teenage boys is that that's basically what they are themselves. Either that or emotionally-stunted, frustrated McG/Michael Bay clones who wouldn't know a sincere moment if it bit them on the ass.

We're never going to be rid of these idiots, are we?

"I can't help but think that Frans and Guza are targeting their soaps to teen-aged boys, rather than women of all ages, who have traditionally been the prime soap audience." - Alice

I agree; but if they were catering to teen boys they might try to impress with graphics better than first-generation game systems (this made my teen son laugh out loud with the "brilliant" comment by the show-runners), rather than handling this like old guys impressed with this new fangled computer thingy. LOL

"I would prefer a special behind-the-scenes peek at how exactly the showrunners and head writer manage to perennially remain in a posture of cranial-rectal inversion, myself. That would be eye-opening." - Becca

Now that would be fun to watch. Oh, I couldn't stop laughing when I read this. Hee

Oh man, this show has umpteenth the suckage!

Becca, just dropping by to say I love your
blogs. Truly. I am constantly amazed that a show with such great actors, characters and crew as GH has to churn out such crapastic stuff. It's 10 Cups of wrong. Please continue to point it out in that lovely way you do. :)

I have a teenage son who watches the show with me, and he thought the CGI was cheesy and unrealistic. Most of the show does seem targeted to his tastes, though -- he's sadly a big Jason fan -- I feel a deep sense of shame.

Becca, with a line like "a posture of cranial-rectal inversion" there should be some kind of writing award in your future. Do you think an agent might discover this blog while searching for online porn, as Diablo Cody's did? Maybe you need to spend more time writing about the wannabe strippers on AMC.

I am not even impressed by the actors anymore. You can't make lemonade out of lemons and the best actor on this show, Ric Hearst, was unable to save the toilet of a story he was given. Nor has Tyler C(Nikolas), a decent actor been able to salvage any of the tumor, TMK crap shoved down our throats. And Nancy Grahn, please goto CBS where they appreciate good mature actresses and actually give them material not plot points.

No one I know thinks this show is any good and yet on it goes. If you are going to do special effects, do it right will you, and stop with the cheesy 1980's atari style graphics. Wyndamere in Nov was the worst. Who came up with that one.

Osama Bin Laden needs to go over to Prospect and help those folks out. If you want reek terror on the show I am sure he is available and sad to say(hope this does not offend anyone) would be far more entertaining than anything we have seen out of Prospect in the last 2 years.

Someone please explain to me why GH's ratings are not lower than they are. I don't get it. This is the worst soap on TV, and has passed AMC only because the Angie and Jessie stuff on AMC is great(although the rest of AMC is still suckage).

The teens watching this show - wake up - it is trash and no good. Move to CBS or watch lifetime on cable.

I have to say, any actor on this show be concerned. Working as an actor on GH these days is like working as a chef at a sleezy diner called 'Good Eats'. What class restaurant would hire that chef and what decent production would hire actors working for such a horrid show where good acting does not mean a damn thing.

Special effects. You know just do these round the clock and be done with it. You don't need decent actors for this crap.

All I can say is that I am dumbfounded by the stupidity of this show called GH.......special effects my arse....dumb idea....

I love it. The idiots running this show are so effin clueless that they think 1) that special effects are more important character development and 2) that those special effects are GOOD?

Proof positive that they are dumber than any character on this show.

Just once I'd like to see Robin get all queasy from pregnancy hormones. That would be a better special effect than that car "dangling" off the bridge.

I have to admit, I did cheer when the car went off the "bridge" with Sam in it.

It was the comment from Frons "...to actually see downtown Port Charles for the first time." Does anybody remember when Luke, Laura and Lucky returned to the show in the early '90's? And Lucky was wandering around downtown PC? And Luke drove Laura to the hospital (she was faking a pregnancy) in a pink cadillac?
Why I declare! That's downtown PC without the cheesiness!

So I decided to tune in yesterday to form my own opinion about these "special effects." They were nothing to rave about or even promote. It was pretty amateur and I wouldn't go around telling people how much money I spent on it, cuz blah. The hostage crisis last February had more "effects."

Frankly, it was laughable and the scenes that really captured my attention were the ones between Patrick and Robin. You know, actual dialogue and acting that were the focus. No gimmicks. Just talent. Real talent, not manipulated one.

"That's downtown PC without the cheesiness!"

Seriously, what ever happened to OUTSIDE? Is that more expensive than computer outside?

New definition of flawless.....

Britney Spears' skin, career, and parenting skills.

This show is clearly written and produced from a circle jerk in Guza's office.

Did Campbell's pay for the CGI? Is that why we are getting a special behind the scenes report on this crapfest? Will it be bumpered by crazy soup ladies or Campbell's commercials?

This is the way to make soaps profitable again...

Next time Sonny or Jason kill somebody it will it be sponsored.....

Trevor Lansing's journey to Hades brought to you by "ALWAYS OVERNIGHTS".

Lulu's cranial bash to Logan brought to you by "LIPSMACKERS...CHERRY"

Leyla's mumbling brought to you by "PEPTO BISMOL" because something has to make watching this show tolerable!

GH would have saved themselves a bunch of money if they had just shown this picture for Wyndemere:


It would have been about as realistic. Come to think of it, Jason sort of had He-Man hair at the time too.

Did you have to post a screen cap of Leyla looking all misunderstood and waiting for Patrick? I am trying to erase the memory of NS and you had to bring it back. I would have taken another picture of Jason racing through the water to a picture of that character.

BTW...I totally agree about the special effects. KMc and JT demonstrated yesterday that you don't need "special" effects when you have good dialogue and talented actors.

Will the writers quit smoking all the drugs tosses into the harbor? I mean seriously....I have no talent with photoshop and I'm 99% sure I could have done better.

And thank you Marianne. I have been LMAO at the very notion that Jason would think Lorenzo would survive that fall. The stupid stick was passed....sure I know it's temporary...but it landing on Jason is hysterical

Do you think that Brian Frons' pants are permanently ablaze, or only when he opens his mouth?

This TMK story was the most violent and disgusting sweeps story ever. How many times do we need to see Emily strangled? How many ways do we want to see women brutalized? The audience wants hospital-based stories, so they send half the cast to the hospital with bullet wounds. Unfortunately, the scab writers will probably get the blame for this one. However, this story has Guza's fingerprints all over it. They are writing this show for teenage boys and for the head of ABC daytime who is an adolescent himself.

i was watchin old gh from 1989 during the dragonbone story, and for a farewell party for Tracy's ex husband, they were actually outside..and for the majority of the episode....why cant they do that these days? it wud be so much more interesting then wat they do now..and btw..the new guiding light look sucks bob guza's left nut

who are they kidding?! The Melaswen electric forcefield that Bo Brady bounced off of on Days was better special effects than this crap!!

is it possibly that instead of cgi they're using video game graphics, the quality would make so much more sense if they were...sort of realistic but not really supposed to be perceived as real. and I totally agree with you that soaps sets are supposed to be cheesy it's part of their charm!

oh and you forgot to mention another great GH cgi moment when Johnny and Luke literally hang out on the roof of GH with the busy street below...gag me!! the money for that scene and others could have gone to a special fund so the vets might get to say more than four words a week...I mean seriously there's enough money to put this crap on the air but not enough to keep Jackie Zeman on contract and give her a story!!

I love Jason questioning if Lorenzo survived that fall too! So hysterical. Not only would he have had to MIRACULOUSLY learned how to fly, but also survive being shot by the world's greatest hitman Twice at point blank range!!!! We frickin heard it on the tape recording Ric had!!!!

I LOVE GH when Jason's brain damage is referenced. Even if it's by accident. DUH.

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