Dear ABC Daytime,
I'll suspend disbelief until the cows come home. Give me Casey the Alien from Lumina. Give me Helena's secret lair under the hospital where she has cryogenically frozen her son for 20 years and then thaws him out. Give me a batch of faulty ELQ Enduro condoms and let the entire female population of Port Charles gets pregnant on one bad batch. But for heaven's sake, do not bore me. I have the attention span of …oh look! Something shiny!
Get the idea? I hate to be bored. I hate watching things that don't hold my attention. That's why I loved Lost -- I never knew what was going on, but at least my brain was busy trying to figure it out. Make your plots as over the top as you want, and I'll play along, but if I start nodding off or daydreaming about my own plot that's better than yours in my head, you've lost me.
For instance… ABC hyped the return of Vanessa Marcil in every possible way. Every soap magazine had her face on it, every promo mentioned her return, and everyone anticipated her arrival. We were EXCITED! But then she got there and….Zzzzz. We spent a month watching Brenda in "Rome" with some dud -- I mean dude -- named Murphy Sinclair who meant nothing to us, some bossy shrew named Suzanne who meant nothing to us, and they sat in her hotel room that meant nothing to us and talked about a charity that meant nothing to us, and got threatened by a villain we didn't know who meant nothing to us. Way to blow your thunder, writers.
That backstory could have been laid out in two days instead of two weeks. We wanted to see Brenda interact with Sonny, Jax, and Jason. We wanted to see Carly and Brenda pull each other's hair. We wanted fire and we didn't even get a little steam. I couldn't even propose a drinking game using "the Balkan" as the trigger because it was said so often by so many people I would have passed out by the first commercial break. But even if I had passed out, all I would have missed was another 45 minutes of people saying "the Balkan."
To make matters worse, as they dragged it on and on and on -- we thought perhaps there was a method to their madness! The Balkan must be someone we knew and they were probably dragging their heels waiting for him to become available! Maybe it was Sebastian Roche's Jerry Jacks! Maybe it was Ted King's Lorenzo Alcazar! Maybe it was James Franco's Franco! But, no, again we were disappointed to discover it was the snooty and annoying Theo (who means nothing to us) using a fake fancy man accent. Zzzzz. Boring!
As much as I love Vanessa Marcil and the character of Brenda, when she arrived, she took over the entire Port Charles canvas and other plots were sacrificed. Johnny and Olivia, a couple we really loved together, broke up. We barely see Olivia at all these days and when we do, it's as a background player. Sam and Jason have had a couple of romantic scenes, but they, too, now revolve around Brenda. Max and Diane? Nada. Max is too busy taking Brenda on walks to spend time with his lady love. Sonny and Brenda's engagement announcement even took over Luke and Tracy's wedding. FYI: We do care about other characters, writers.
Another thing I despised in 2010 was GH's slap in the face to history and tradition. A few weeks ago, Dan had a guest on Soap Central Live who touched on this point -- a soap hires a new writer, said writer hasn't necessarily watched the show for 20 or 30 years like some of us have, and thus, they don't know the history and just write from scratch. But they aren't writing for loyal nerdy fans like me who watched Luke and Tracy's wedding and said "Where is Bobbie? Wouldn't she attend her brother's wedding? How about Ned and Dillon? Wouldn't they want to see their Mom get hitched? And is Monica still at that spa from Thanksgiving?" I understand budgets are tight, ABC, but really, couldn't you at least mention the missing family members and explain their absence?
Last week I raved about the sweet episodes GH did for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but -- they missed the reading of the Christmas story and the GH Candy Striper elves. I think Kristina and Molly would have looked precious in elf gear. I'm certain Stephen Weber would have been delighted to read the Christmas story at GH. So, they were on the right track holiday-wise, but missed a key element for a fan of GH history.
Next on my list is dropped storylines…January started with a bang with the fallout between Lucky, Liz, and Nikolas, and the paternity of baby Aiden. Nikolas thinks Aiden is his kid. Elizabeth thinks Aiden is Nikolas' kid. But Aiden is not Nikolas's kid. He's Lucky's kid. But has that been mentioned in the past six months? Not really.
Yes, I know the producers had to write around Rebecca Herbst's real life maternity leave. But she's been back for a while now, and Elizabeth barely shares any scenes with Nikolas or Lucky. In fact, we've barely seen her at all. That threesome is one of the central love triangles on the show. We've been invested in Lucky, Elizabeth, and Nikolas since they were teenagers.
But instead of seeing that drama unfold, which has major sizzle potential, we had to watch Nikolas playing Henry Higgins to Brook Lynn's Eliza Doolittle, teaching her which fork to use, and Lucky getting scammed by Siobhan. C'mon writers. Can Lucky please find out Aiden is his son before Aiden graduates? We waited through a lot of turmoil between those three characters as this tale unfolded, yet we never got the payoff we hoped for.
Another disappointment for me was the breakup of the oddball couple Spinelli and Maxie. Yeah, I know Maxie is a self-absorbed cheater and Spinelli is a socially backward nerd. But, so what? I loved them together. I loved who they became when they were entwined with one another. Two messed up people became better when they united their strengths, and they found a balance in one another that neither of them had known before.
I understand why the writers had to split them up, but isn't it time to reunite them? Maxie's "relationship" with Matt has fizzled and is not worth pursuing, in my humble opinion. Spinelli's downfall into a spiteful puppet for Carly to use doesn't sit will with me either. By breaking up Maxie and Spinelli, they erased all the growth those two characters made while they were together, and that left me feeling dissatisfied as a viewer. I took a chance and rooted for an offbeat, quirky, non-traditional soap couple and became emotionally invested in them, but it appears to have been for naught.
Speaking of Spinelli becoming Carly's puppet… that could only happen because Carly has morphed into an evil puppet master. Carly has always been a dominant "in your face" character, but never as vindictive as she's been written this year. It's hard for me to imagine Jax loving someone like Carly. She's become so unbearable, I don't know how anyone would want to be in the room with her, much less married to her. Certainly Carly would hate Dante for getting Michael sent to prison, but she wouldn't neglect her kids and entire family the rest of the year to spite him.
As the big bus crash unfolds, I find it really hard to fathom that the Carly who sat by Michael's bedside for a year while he was in a coma and who spent the past year trying to avenge his two weeks in prison would let him make his first trip outside of Port Charles without her. Sending Olivia in her place was out of character for Carly because, in spite of her many flaws, she has always been a protective mother. Certainly she's made bad choices and failed sometimes, but she hasn't been neglectful.
And as a random mention -- why on earth would Elizabeth send Cameron on a ski trip with a bunch of teens, even if Uncle Stephen was going?
This brings me to my next gripe. Stephen Weber. I love Scott Reeves, both as an actor onscreen and the person he is off-screen. But did he get saddled with a loser of a character or what? Stephen Weber is a spineless jellyfish. He's let crazy Lisa run the joint for months. We could easily make a "my hands are tied" drinking game because Stephen seems to think he has no choice in how Lisa terrorizes the staff. She's blackmailed him, too -- so the fact that he doubts that she's doing that to Robin and Patrick is laughable.
Imagine you are the chief of staff of a hospital…if one of your doctors pulled a gun on someone and then turned it on herself and ended up in the psychiatric hospital, would you let her come back and treat patients a week later? That part of the plot needs some serious work. It's all become very predictable. When Lisa gave Johnnie those pills to take, is there anyone out there who didn't know she was going to try and knock him out? And wouldn't she have an idea of how long the pills would last and be out of there before Johnny woke up? *sigh* But, as I said at the get-go, it's not entirely boring, so I'm trying to stick with it.
And that is the very worst thing about GH this year -- how many days I had to have pep talks with myself to keep watching. When GH has aired their "encore episodes," like the ones this past week from the Metro Court hostage storyline, and I see Georgie, Alan, Monica, Bobbie, Ric, Lorenzo, and Skye, I am reminded of how many core characters they foolishly killed off or chased away and how good the show is capable of being.
On the other side of that coin is that they are showing so many repeat episodes that it's causing frustration. I got letters from viewers who tuned in, expecting to see the next chapter in the bus crash storyline this week, and instead saw an episode from two years ago, without explanation. It's somewhat disconcerting for viewers to see a huge storyline like the bus crash break open one day, and tune in the next day to find a rerun. Way to annoy the audience, geniuses.
What will happen tomorrow, dear readers? Will Mac and the PCPD have trouble finding bodies sprawled all over the mountain in the snow since they can't even find the criminals who routinely discuss their illegal plans on the docks in public? Will all the unnecessary characters like Allie and Not Kiefer die in a tragic budget cut? Will NuMorgan meet an untimely demise because no one ever warmed up to him after Aaron Refvem left? Will Leonard Cohen get a kickback from GH for the use of his most magnificent song? Will Alexis realize she should never let her children leave their home again because trouble follows them everywhere? Will Ric make an appearance to see Molly in the hospital? Will Lucky finally live up to his name and be the one who realizes the Balkan and Theo are one?
Only tomorrow knows, dear readers, and I will tune in tomorrow as long as there are tomorrows.