Dear readers, as you know, I mince no words when nonsense appears on my screen. I do not suffer fools gladly, even fictional soap opera fools. On the other hand, when they nail something, when the GH team of actors and writers truly do it right, they're brilliant. In the giving spirit of Christmas, this week I want to devote my time to talking about what was RIGHT on General Hospital this year.
First, allow me to say that GH has more talent than it knows what to do with. Let's start with the old guard... Tony Geary, Jackie Zeman, Stuart Damon, Leslie Charleson, Jane Elliot and for part of 04, John Ingle and Anna Lee are all amazingly gifted performers... This past week, seeing Bobbie in one single scene where she is talking to that doll head whom we are supposed to accept as Laura (but could just as easily be Norman Bates' decomposing Mom in a blonde wig) and we see all that passion and spirit that exudes from her eyes as she explains to Laura why she lied about her being dead - was I the only one thrilled to actually see her have the chance to ACT instead of changing IV's for a change? When an actress can take one 5 minute scene and make the audience feel a myriad of emotions, she should be given more opportunities to do it. The sad thing (and I won't park here, as next week I'll do a "Worst Of") is that it took Anna Lee's death for the writers to actually write scenes for Tracy, Alan, and Monica that had a little depth to them. Even so, Jane Elliot's scenes the week Lila died were Emmy winners, in my book. She was brilliant.
The fact is, with the exception of Diego the whole cast can act. Like you, I get weary of Emily's endless bedside scenes, but she's done some great acting this year, so we know she's capable of it if not consistent. We had powerhouse performances in 2004 from Maurice Benard, Tamara Braun, Steve Burton, Nancy Lee Grahn, Robin Christopher, Cynthia Preston, Kelly Monaco, and Ted King, Chad Brannon and Catherine Wadkins, and I'm probably forgetting someone I'll regret forgetting later.
But actors cannot act if they are not given material to work with, so in spite of all the times I poke holes in the writers work-the fact is that none of us would be watching if they weren't writing compelling, funny, romantic, moving, and engaging storylines.
This year, they "had me at hello" many, many times. A few times, I wanted to hate the stories, but got sucked in. When Nikolas first ended up at Mary's cabin and she told him he was Connor - I rolled my eyes and thought "Give me a break." But as it unfolded and I found myself genuinely caring about this psycho Mary Bishop because the writers wrote it in 3D and beautifully, and Catherine Wadkins played the hell out of it. A woman widowed by the war in Iraq who snaps and invents a husband for herself because she can't handle her grief and can't bear being alone? That's tragic. Silly? Yes. But I cared about Mary, and some days I rooted for her to win Nik away from Emily just because she was less whiny and far more interesting. I didn't expect to like that storyline, and before I knew it, I was hooked. Not to mention Tyler Christopher whose daily subtle but heartbreaking performances as a man who could not remember his life were so mesmerizing I couldn't stop watching him. Even when he gets weak material, he makes it better just by his very presence. He's truly a phenomenal actor.
When Sam came blowing into town and they did the dumb "Dead Man's Hand" thing - I just wasn't that into Sam. I didn't think I would ever like her, and not just because her bangs were always in her eyes. She was brash and annoying and didn't fit with Jax. And when she started sleeping with Sonny, I didn't like her much better. But when Sam got pregnant and moved in with Jason, she started warming to the idea of motherhood and softening around the edges and suddenly, I was smitten with her. I love her and Jason together, I loved Jason having a reason to smile, and having someone accepts Jason's lifestyle, as she has lived a little outside of the law herself.
And although it's not popular, I also liked Carly and Lorenzo, and if they end up together as Sonny and Carly drift apart, I might turn cartwheels in my living room. (Assuming I can get my fat butt up in the air.) Lorenzo, it turns out, is an intellectual, gone astray, and Carly, it turns out can carry on an interesting conversation when she's not screaming at Sonny. Ted King and Tamara Braun had great chemistry. But then again, so do Tamara and Maurice, and Tamara and Steve, and Tamara and anyone she's on screen with because she's just one of those people you can't take your eyes off of - she's full of energy and life and it radiates in every scene she does. She never phones it in - she must live by that old John Lennon wisdom "Be Here Now."
As storylines go, the Port Charles hotel fire kept us all spellbound for its duration. We had dumb moments (Courtney and Skippy the Dog) tricky moments (thinking Scott was dead, and finding he wasn't, Zander trapped in the basement, presumed dead, but not...) the sad (losing Cameron) and the romantic, (Luke and Skye, Nik and Emily) all in all a very watchable bit of storytelling, and some wonderful dramatic scenes that remain memorable, months later.
A storyline that started out promising and thereby worthy of the "best" list was the resurrection of L and B records. Hearing Wally Kurth and Adrienne Leon singing "You're the Only One I Love" together was precious, and her singing voice is just stellar. I thought that had the chance to actually go somewhere, seeing as Scott Clifton is a singer in real life, as are several other cast members, so I hoped it was going to give some of the GH'ers a chance to showcase their skills. Where would Ricky Martin be without his GH stint as Miguel Morez? Or Jack Wagner without the exposure as singing cop Frisco Jones, or Rick Springfield without his GH stay as Noah Drake? Many a recording artist got a boost from the visibility gained on General Hospital. This time sadly, a good storyline fizzled into utter nonsense with Dillon in drag, but hey, the Worst of isn't until next week, so I'll quit that topic immediately. Note to writers - Let Brook Lynn sing again. We LIKE it.
Also enjoyable some budding relationships - loved the pairing of Jax and Courtney, the blossoming relationship of Jason and Sam, the tentative passion of Luke and Skye, the comedic competition of the early Alexis and Ric, and the awkward teen angst of Georgie and Dillon. Of course, I can't fail to mention Sonny and Carly, or Jason and Courtney, who both have that "911" kind of thing - "If you need me, I'll come. Period, the end, no questions asked" kind of love. And just in general - Steve Burton. When Jason cries, I cry. Every time, without exception.
And on a personal note, the absolute best of GH 2004 is ....You. When my father died in September, literally hundreds of you wrote to offer me prayers, condolences, share your own personal struggles with grief and loss and encourage me in that dark sad moment in my life. How can I thank you? I am a stranger who writes silly words into the universe and hopefully make you laugh each week, but somehow you see I am real and treated me not as an anonymous columnist, but as a valued friend of yours and I was moved in a way no words I have ever learned can possibly express. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Another Best is Dan, the editor of the Soap Central website who allows me to speak my mind every week without editing me so I can ramble on and never worry about word counts or content - to have a place to speak my mind freely is a great gift, and Dan is a real gem.
What will happen tomorrow dear readers? Will the "Best of" be so free of sarcasm that you'll think I have been snatched by aliens? Will I miss some favorite moment of someone's who will write and call me names for leaving it off the list? Will you show up again next week for the "Worst Of" even though you know I am going to be mean and say something about your favorite character that will irk you? Will you all promise to have a safe and Happy New Year's Eve?
Only tomorrow knows, dear readers, and I will tune in tomorrow as long as there are tomorrows. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, until we meet again.