Last night on Twitter, I tweeted that I felt like Keanu Reeves because after Friday's GH, all I could say was "Whoa."
When General Hospital gets it right, no one can touch them. The writing, the acting, the emotion, the passion, it was all over-the-top, spilling like hot lava out of a volcano that we've been anxiously waiting to see erupt.
This week's column is an unabashed love letter to my favorite TV show. Readers, isn't it magnificent when we anticipate something and it's even better than we think it will be?
Two major storylines blew up this week and the consequences will have a lasting impact on all of Port Charles. I can't decide where to begin. Eenie Meenie Miney…Lucky.
If the January 25th episode of GH doesn't earn Jonathan Jackson an Emmy, there is no justice in the world. I watch multiple soaps, and I can say without hesitation his performance on Monday's episode was the best acting I have seen in eons.
In my years of Daytime viewing, there are a few days that stand out in my mind: B.J.'s death/ Maxie's heart transplant. Stone's death. Brenda wearing a wire and Sonny finding it. Karen Wolek on OLTL testifying on the stand she was a hooker. (Confession: I just stopped and went to watch that one on YouTube.) Cassie's death on Y&R. So many times daytime has moved me and broken my heart - and this week GH gave me two such days - Lucky confronting Nikolas and Elizabeth, and the big Sonny/Dante showdown. I am mesmerized by General Hospital this week. "Sweeps" is an accurate term, because I have indeed been swept away.
Daytime Drama has taken a beating recently. We have lost several shows in the past few years, and the remaining shows are struggling. If I were in power at ABC, I would take the Monday and Friday episodes of GH, play them in Primetime, and advertise the heck out of it. If any former GH viewers saw what was waiting for them back in Port Charles, those two episodes would lure them back. If someone had never seen GH before, those two episodes would bring in more viewers than any stunt casting they could conjure up, in my humble opinion.
And a lion's share of the credit goes to…the writers. Sure, Jonathan Jackson hit a grand slam with the material he was given, but the writers deserve serious credit for the way the story unfolded and the words they gave him to say.
I started jotting down all the good lines this week in my notes, but I had so many pages I had to stop.
For instance "Wrong is forgetting our anniversary or not paying the phone bill. My fiancée nailing my brother goes way beyond wrong. It's SICK." And the way he spit out the word "sick" pierced my heart to the core.
Or "What is it about cheating that turns you on so much? Are you bored when I touch you, or do you just like being the center of your own drama?" OUCH!
Or "Screwing on any flat surface you can find." or "They'll be too busy rutting like farm animals." (That one made me howl.) Or, "You cheated. You lied. You handed yourself out like candy."
When Elizabeth begged Lucky not to tell anyone for Jake and Cam's sake, we saw the fury build up in Lucky's chest and he spewed "Don't EVER use Cam and Jake to manipulate me again!" And readers, he was right. If Liz cared about Jake and Cam's well being, she wouldn't have been banging their uncle.
Lucky was humiliated and betrayed by Liz, but he certainly didn't spare his brother Nikolas any of his wrath. He said the thing most likely to hurt Nikolas, "You are a Cassadine right down to the bottom of your rotten soul." Nikolas has worked so hard to distance himself from the sins of his family that Lucky comparing him to the family he detests was a pointy dagger aimed straight at Nikolas' heart. And frankly, Nikolas deserved it.
I don't know if you had the chance to catch Tyler Christopher's interview on Soap Central Live or not, but Tyler mentioned that fans have asked him why Nikolas just stood there while Lucky railed. They wondered why Nikolas didn't defend himself, and Tyler said quite rightly, "What would be his defense?" Nikolas had no justification for his actions. Lucky truly was an innocent victim in this, which is why I think it broke our hearts so much.
Certainly, Lucky cheated on Liz in the past while strung out on pills, but I believe people can be redeemed. So to those of you who have been writing me and saying "Lucky had it coming" because of something he did years ago, I completely disagree. Lucky did not have it coming. He was 100% committed to Liz and to raising two kids that aren't his own. Liz was, as Lucky so harshly pointed out, "a faithless tramp."
After he got all that off his chest, Lucky proceeded to the Haunted Star to down some booze with his old man. Tony Geary and Jonathan Jackson still have that mad chemistry together that they did back when Jonathan first appeared. Lucky explained to Luke how he had loved Elizabeth so much it ached when he looked at her, and now it just ached. Luke, being the best dad ever, encouraged Lucky to stay drunk and numb for a while. Not only that, but Luke assured Lucky that if he wanted someone to die, that Luke would be happy to pull the trigger. Wow, not many dads who would offer to kill someone for their son. How touching. (Just kidding.)
Speaking of Lucky, let's not forget that there have been not two, but three actors to play the role. While the debate is beginning to fizzle out about whether Greg Vaughn or Jonathan Jackson is the most excellent Lucky (Team Jackson!) let me throw another name in the ring: Jacob Young. Jacob is the actor who took the role over from Jonathan Jackson on his first turn. It was Young's Lucky who was brainwashed by Helena and had Elizabeth "erased" from his brain, as I recall. The reason I mention his name is to make sure that any lingering Jacob Young fans get the heads up that he will be the special guest on this Friday's episode of Soap Central Live. If you haven't tuned into the show, it's a must hear for all soap fans. Dan speaks directly with the actors you adore, and you even get a chance to call in and talk to your heroes in person! If you're on the West Coast like me and can't listen live because you're at work, no fear. You can download the MP3 and listen whenever it's convenient for you!
As angry as I am with Elizabeth, I also felt pity for her simply because I, too, have done things in my past I knew were stupid and wrong. Haven't you? As Liz sat on the steps while the haunting song ("Stranger in My Skin" by Christine Dente) that I quoted in this week's title played, I knew exactly how she felt. I've been there. That moment when you have totally trashed a relationship, your life, the life of people you love, for reasons you don't even understand yourself, and absolutely despise your own weak and pitiful soul.
More than that, I think we are being set up to watch Liz have a mental breakdown. Her scene in the hospital where she had blurred vision and was hearing voices that weren't there convinced me a trip to Shadybrooke is in her future. I know a lady who hears voices in her head. Last week the voices told her to make 100 chicken salad sandwiches. But she was off her meds.
Julie Marie Berman also did great work this week. She could easily be eclipsed by her on-screen brother, but I don't want her to get lost in the shuffle. Lulu's disappointment was visible, her eyes were sad and weary as she realized there was a war between her brothers. The contempt and rage she expressed to Elizabeth at GH was …delicious, for us as viewers, and we could see Ms. Berman was pouring all the passion in her soul into Lulu Spencer to make it real. Her subsequent breakdown in Dante's room was also heartbreaking.
Lulu has worked so hard to keep Dante at arm's length, but she had to finally admit she had come to need him. I absolutely love them together; they are easily my "super couple" of choice right now. But really, the pickings are somewhat slim, Kiefer "I like to slap my girlfriend around" and Kristina? Cheating Maxie and sad Spinelli? Olivia "I not so secretly want Sonny" and Johnny? Carly and "I'm secretly plotting to have Sonny arrested" Jax? Nope, it's Lulu and Dante, hands-down.
Dominic Perelli is no more. Our favorite undercover cop can go by one name now, Dante Falconeri. The word is out; he's a cop, he's Olivia's son, and he's Sonny's child.
Ronnie pleaded with Dante to arrest Sonny, but Dante was determined not to ruin Josslyn's christening. He wanted to let the family have one more happy moment before it all came crashing down. Nice gesture, but that one moment landed him on the floor with a bullet in his gut.
When Sonny summoned him over for "an assignment" right before the christening, Dante's radar went off and red flags began flying. He knew Sonny was onto him, and called Sonny on the phony assignment.
Maurice Benard has this amazing ability with his eyes. At times, Sonny's eyes twinkle like stars. You can see life and light emitting from them. But in the scenes where he goes all mobster on us, as Dante pointed out, Sonny's eyes are cold and dead, like he turns off some switch inside him and blocks the light of his soul.
Something that struck me about this storyline was how pointless revenge is. Dominic Zamprogna gave one of the weeks other compelling performances (there were SO many!) as he insisted that Sonny let him explain why he worked so hard to take Sonny down. As Dante laid out the sad story of how Sonny killed Lt. Poletti…Sonny had no recollection of Lt. Poletti. He only said "If I did kill him, he deserved it." I know Dante hoped for a big moment where Sonny would regret killing a guy who was so important to Dante, but Sonny had no clue who the guy was.
Dante continued and told Sonny to pray his kids never saw him the way Dante saw him, but sadly, two of them already have. Kristina witnessed Sonny's meltdown with Claudia, and Michael has witnessed so much violence in his life he'd have to have a brain transplant to get it out of his head. Only Morgan still has illusions about Sonny, and I suspect those will be broken soon, too.
Readers, in a near perfect week, I hate to be a nitpicker, but Dante's description of Sonny's past didn't ring true. When we first met Sonny, he was a lowlife who ran a strip club, certainly not a mob kingpin who would have had "a limo and fancy suits" when Dante was a kid. But I don't care about the revisionist history this week other than feeling compelled to point it out because I'm a nerd.
After Dante's heartfelt and passionate speech, Sonny snarled "Goodbye, Detective" and pulled the trigger. As he moved closer and aimed to fire a second bullet, Olivia burst in, dropped to the floor and called Dominic "Dante" - and Sonny's eyes tried to make sense of that bombshell, just as she dropped another and told Sonny that Dante was his son. WOW. Talk about a freaking cliffhanger…
Think about Monday, readers. Sonny realizing Olivia betrayed him, Carly realizing Lulu betrayed her, Sonny being arrested, Jason turning on Johnny, oh my goodness! I love my job! I will have juicy things to write about for weeks to come!
Unless, of course, they have more Lisa and Patrick scenes, which are a serious snooze-fest. I honestly have zero interest in that storyline, and from the reader feedback in my e-mail, none of you are interested either. Hey, ABC - move along. You're doing so well with the rest of the show, but this particular storyline is nothing but a test of our fast forward buttons.
Random questions…Why did Lady Jane show up at Jax's door unattended? Did he make her take an airport shuttle bus? Why were Jax and Carly talking to an empty bassinette when they talked about how Josslyn was upstairs getting changed for her christening? And then later, Carly came downstairs with the christening gown on a hanger…What was in that creepy last-minute gift that arrived in a scary little box? How did Luke learn to do such a good boomerang impression? What's up with Maxie's hair? (Again!) Was Agent Rayner on Jenny Craig? He is suddenly svelte. When Sonny's phone rang, why didn't he know how to answer it? He just kept pushing buttons.
What will happen tomorrow, dear readers? Will Sonny ever call Spinelli by his name instead of "creature"? Will Mac try to recruit Jason for the PCPD because he solves more cases than any of Mac's cops ever do, in spite of his brain damage? Will Franco return and offer Jason the chance to join him at another tea party in exchange for his evidence on Michael? Will Carly announce that Elizabeth is a tramp at the conclusion of Josslyn's christening? Will Michael yell, "I told you so!" at Sonny while they lead him off in handcuffs? Will Sam ironically become Jake's new step-mommy?