My precious readers, I'll start by making it clear that I love General Hospital. I have been a viewer for over 30 years and you don't watch a show for three decades that you hate. But there are many times over the years when I have hated the choices the powers that be have made and this is one of those times.
Without taking the fans into consideration ABC decided to recast Michael at the worst possible time, right before the big climax, and it knocked the wind out of the entire "Claudia's murder" storyline. Months of drama and suspense went down the tubes without a satisfactory resolution.
We've followed the death of Claudia Zacharra, the subsequent cover-up and all its twists and turns for months. One of the things we had been waiting for breathlessly was for Dante to learn that Michael was the one who killed Claudia. We wanted Dante to know that Michael was the culprit and Sonny was actually doing a selfless thing by taking the blame for the murder to protect his son.
But Drew Garrett, the Michael we were invested in, evaporated before our eyes. A total stranger we had never seen before confessed that crime to Dante. That big moment we had anticipated for months fizzled instead of sizzled. Why did we care if some imposter confessed to Claudia's murder? We didn't know him, we didn't care about him. It's like skimming over articles in the news of random crimes in the paper. Our interest was only incidental, as in "Hey honey, they caught the guy that killed that lady." "Cool."
If you're a producer of Daytime television, you have seen the steady decline of viewers. If you have watched shows being cancelled right and left, it would seem your main concern when making choices would be "How do I keep my current viewers and gain new ones?" But it's clear that ABC and GH didn't ask that question or care about the answer when they recast Drew Garrett at this particular moment in time.
No offense at all to Chad Duell, he seems like a capable actor. His talent isn't at all in question here - he's just not Drew Garrett. He's not the character viewers wanted to see in the big scene. If they had allowed Drew Garrett to finish out this storyline and introduced Chad Duell gradually later in a new storyline, I think we'd all be more inclined to accept the recast with less…bitterness.
No one has officially made a statement about why Drew Garrett was replaced, but rumors have circulated that suggest Drew Garrett got mouthy one day and pissed off the wrong executive. If this is true, am I wrong to suggest that said executive seemed more concerned with his momentary revenge, and feeling the power of his Donald Trump moment in being able to bellow "You're fired!" rather than taking the viewers of his show and the general health of his genre into consideration?
I can understand that, I suppose, if some surly teen was mouthy with me, my first impulse would be to can him, too - but when that choice affects a million viewers who may or may not like it, you have to give the decision a little more weight. The choice to recast Michael in the middle of this powerhouse storyline effectively disappointed about 80% of GH viewers who were waiting for the big payoff that they'll never get. Viewers invested countless hours of their lives following this storyline. (Of course, it could be worse; I could have to write the Two Scoops for Young and the Restless and have to try to comment on the ridiculous "two sets of evil twins" storyline.)
Okay, now that I got that off my chest…
There were many other things that were right on GH this week and I want to highlight those, too. I always enjoy the scenes that celebrate the female friendship, and we were treated to some great scenes this week with Lulu and Maxie and Carly and Olivia that sparkled.
One of the finest qualities you can find in a friend is loyalty. My BFF Betsy has been my friend since the 80s and I trust her completely. If, like Alexis, I accidentally ran someone down with my car and forgot to call 9-1-1 because I was rushing my own battered child to the hospital, I could tell Betsy and she'd never tell a soul. If I was hiding a fugitive in my apartment and Betsy accidentally walked in and stumbled onto him, she wouldn't tell, and she'd probably offer to cook him dinner to boot. If Betsy was crouched down behind a bar listening to my husband and I fight, instead of hiding until we finished, she would have popped up and yelled at him with me, taking my side even if I was wrong. So, when it comes to great female friendships, I know whereof I speak.
Maxie was bursting to tell Jason and Spinelli that she knew where Michael was hiding, but kept her mouth shut out of loyalty to Lulu. When NuMichael called someone to pick him up, my husband Jeff, who pretends he doesn't watch GH, said, "I bet he called Kristina." This is how good this storyline is, Jeff is (somewhat) openly watching right now, he only holds his book in front of his face pretending he isn't watching for the first 10 minutes and then quietly closes it and just watches outright!
I am also happy that the icy chill between Carly and Olivia is beginning to thaw. It's rare that Carly takes advice from anyone, but Olivia was giving her sound counsel and she at least pretended to listen.
Laura Wright was splendid in her courtroom scenes this week. Carly's testimony was so convincing and compelling, what juror wouldn't be swayed by her testimony and those chubby little baby cheeks on Josslyn? And I didn't mind the payoff of that nice juicy "Thank You" kiss Sonny gave her after court ended.
All the time the trial has been going, I thought it was somewhat anticlimactic since we all knew Coleman was going to vote "Not Guilty." Thus I never considered that Sonny could be convicted. I must admit, I didn't see Coleman getting ousted from the jury coming. The whole trial, Coleman has been a thorn in the judge's side, but the judge put up with Coleman's antics until the bitter end.
Without his one sure "Not Guilty" vote, it appears that his best chance of being acquitted is coming from…Lisa? Lisa went into the trial predisposed to hate Sonny, but when Jury Foreman Alice handed out her list of rules and the jury began to deliberate, it appeared that Lisa was the most sympathetic voice in the room. Wow, maybe Patrick will snap out of it and remember he's married if Lisa is the one who lets Sonny walk. For the record, I like Lisa better as a fair-minded juror than as a spoiler for Robin and Patrick's marriage.
While I'm on a roll about women, my favorite moment of the show this week, bar none, was when Sam, played by the lovely Kelly Monaco, slugged Mr. Bauer in the face after he called her little sister a slut. I was hard on Sam a few weeks back when she was relentlessly badgering Ethan, but it was true to her character. Sam is savvy and street smart and she doesn't go down quietly. I love the way she fights for the people she loves, up to and including punching a man twice her size in the mouth when he clearly had it coming.
Kristina is being sucked into something by Mr. Bauer, he invited her to Kiefer's memorial and I just *know* he's going to do something dreadful to her when she arrives. I realized I was remiss in my past few columns because I praised Lexi Ainsworth to the hilt and never mentioned her acting partner, Christian Alexander (Kiefer). While Kiefer was a despicable character, Christian was brilliant playing him. When Kiefer would beat Kristina, we felt every blow, his brutal stance and visage were menacing. When he returned, sorrowful and remorseful, tender and loving, we, like Kristina, almost wanted to believe him. He did a remarkable acting job playing a very unsympathetic character.
Back to the babes of Port Charles… Although she's not on our side because we've been duped into routinely rooting for thugs, mobsters, and criminals, I enjoy Claire Walsh as a character. She is the first worthy courtroom adversary Diane has had in a long time. I hope she sticks around after the trial; I can see them sparring in court for years to come. Claire is a bulldog and while she is ambitious and hoping for a win that will make her career, I also get the impression she actually cares about justice.
Even Molly was a force to be reckoned with this week when she marched into Mob Pasta and asked Jason to make Warren Bauer disappear. Damn! That little girl is cold! But her Dad is Ric Lansing and her Uncle is Sonny, so really, it's kind of in her DNA. Haley Pullos is a find, a great little actress. I hope she doesn't get recast. We already have a new Morgan on the way and I'm very sad about losing little Aaron Revfem.
Although it was a stellar week to be a girl in Port Charles this week, I can't ignore our men. The showdown of Sonny and Dante was sizzling as expected. Sonny had to finally admit to his eldest son that he was actually innocent of Claudia's murder. Maurice Benard and Dominic Zamprogna have wonderful chemistry; all the scenes they are in together are intense and riveting for viewers. Whoever cast Dom Z should get a big fat bonus in their check. But now that the truth is out, exactly what will Dante do with the truth? Will he let the jury deliberate and see how it all plays out, or will he feel inclined to intervene? I can hardly wait to find out.
Luke has his hands full with Tracy, Skye, and Helena all hovering around him on one day; does anyone remember the man has a heart condition? I sure hope the hunt for Lorenzo Alcazar's money leads us to… Lorenzo. He was my favorite rival mobster ever. He played backgammon, for Pete's sake!
Helena's motives are even less pure than Skye's, but now that's she's tipped her hand and aroused Luke's suspicion, I suspect he will be the one to solve the mystery about Liz's baby and it's paternity.
I am also enjoying the heartwarming story between Liz and Shirley, the cancer patient played by the wonderful Michael Learned (formerly of The Waltons for those of you in my age range). I love the portrayal of a dying woman as one of the most life-filled creatures in Port Charles. Very inspirational. I suspect her influence in Liz's life will bring more clarity than another month at Shadybrook ever could have.
What will happen tomorrow, dear readers? Will Sonny be peeved to discover they redecorated his old penthouse, moved the door to the other side, and gave it to Johnny Z? Will NuMichael give me his unused nights at the Copa del Oro since he's come out of hiding? Will Lulu learn that you can't leave a kid prone to running away alone? Will Alexis learn that she shouldn't leave Kristina alone? Will Alice have to use her big-time wrestling moves on the jury to make them cooperate? Will Sonny kiss Carly again if he is found innocent? Will Claire be a little jealous?