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 Two Scoops: January 17, 2011 columns
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My sudsy family
For the Week of January 17, 2011
There is a certain camaraderie among people who watch soaps. Maybe more like a secret society.
There is a certain camaraderie among people who watch soaps. Maybe more like a secret society. When people find out I am a soap columnist, they whisper to me in hushed tones about their own shameful soap viewing habit. Professional people who think being a fan of daytime drama would make people take them less seriously, or are slightly embarrassed that they enjoy such lowly entertainment.


But here's the thing -- I think daytime has an undeservedly bad rap. With the junk that passes for TV these days, soaps seem to be quite highbrow in my opinion. There are shows where people try to balance on giant rubber balls and not fall into vats of water. There are shows where a dozen or so women throw themselves at one smug bachelor who then says eeny meeny miney moe and picks one to be his wife after making out with all of them. There's a show where grown adults try to pick up paper clips with a fishhook in their mouth or balance cookies on their heads to win a million dollars. There's a show where people throw chairs at each other and publicly declare their infidelity.


And people are ashamed to watch soaps? Soaps have a rich history with moving writing and dramatic acting and engaging stories you can follow. They educate and bring awareness to social issues in a way that few other genres could pull off. For instance, when Robin was pregnant with Emma, she was the first character on TV to go through an HIV pregnancy. GH let the world know that an HIV mom could give birth to a healthy baby. Soaps are valuable. When I was a teenager, Ryan's Hope came on. My Mom and I started watching it from episode one. It connected us; it gave us things to talk about and to laugh about and cry about together.


GH was the recipient of a little respect from Hollywood last year when James Franco, the IT man of the year decided he wanted to play a serial killer on daytime. And now, we are being treated to the wonderful work of former primetime actor Daniel Benzali as Theo Hoffman/The Balkan.


Now before you send me hate me, allow me to explain. I'll use Helena Cassadine as an example. Helena is evil. She does despicable things. But every time I see Constance Towers walk on-screen, my face lights up with joy because she's just so delicious. Helena's character is a psychopath, but I can't take my eyes off of her.


So when I say I love Daniel Benzali, it's not because I am siding with the Balkan, I just think he's brilliant at making me love to hate him. Whether he's speaking in his Fancy Man accent, or his Typical New York Thug accent, he's got my attention. I was mad when I first found out he was the Balkan because I had unrealistic expectations of GH bringing back Ted King's Alcazar or Sebastian Roche's Jerry. So, I whined a little when that didn't happen. But the Balkan is kind of growing on me.


Unlike Helena, Theo does have a reason for the evil things he's doing. His son was murdered by Brenda and the death was covered up by Dante, and he's trying to get to the bottom of it and also turn the screw a bit on the people who were instrumental in murdering his son. It's reasonable to imagine a real parent who was in the position the Balkan is in would behave the same. (Interestingly enough, again Jason, the brain-damaged hit man is the only one who's suspicious of Theo.)


So, I have a love/hate relationship going here. I hate that Theo is getting away with the things he's getting away with. I scream at my TV. I tweet mean things about the Balkan, and people who don't watch GH probably think I'm on crack. But I love that the Balkan is there because it's a good story. That's why I watch soaps and any serialized show I've ever loved (like Lost, Desperate Housewives, 24) -- because I can't wait to see what happens next. And I'm equally delighted that Daniel Benzali is playing him because he's a superb character actor.


Speaking of superb character actors, where the heck has Adrienne Barbeau's controlling Suzanne been? It's hard to believe that the same woman who followed Brenda all the way from Rome to the very non-cosmopolitan Port Charles would just go AWOL. In my opinion, there is more to Suzanne than we know -- is she just a representative of a charity, or does she play a bigger role in this extended mystery? Does she still have the hots for Jason? Does she have Murphy Sinclair holed up in her hotel room? Enquiring minds want to know.


Many of you contacted me last week to see where my column was and why it hadn't been posted. Readers, I have been writing this column weekly since 2003. That means, give or take, I've written 350 to 400 columns about General Hospital. Some of you have been with me since the first week I wrote. Some of you have even become friends over the years, which is quite remarkable.


It also means I've spent hundreds of weekends working on a GH column. Last year, I got a new job; I'm working more hours, my husband's job has the opposite schedule of mine, and we barely see one another. As much as I love writing and soaps and you -- I love my time a little more. I've opted to only write bi-weekly for now so I can have a couple of free weekends a month without any deadlines looming over my head.


And, to take it one step further -- after writing hundreds of columns about General Hospital, unless they do something completely unexpected, I think I've written about it from just about every angle I can conjure. Moving to a bi-weekly schedule allows a new writer with a fresh voice and perspective to try their hand at this. That will be good for you as readers, as well as it is for me.


So, I'll be here twice a month, and some new wonderful writer (maybe one of you!) will be here on the alternating weeks. And if you get lonely for my snarky GH comments, follow my Twitter feed where I routinely comment on soaps as I'm watching.


Back to business. The bus crash two weeks ago had enormous potential, but here's where I think they missed the boat; on Friday we saw the crash and by Monday we already knew that all of the main characters lived through the crash. The suspense and knuckle-biting we anticipated was taken away because they resolved the tension too soon. I think they could have let it ride a few days, let us wonder where Morgan was, watch Carly cry when no one could find him, etc.


But she probably wouldn't have cried anyway. Her maternal instincts have seemingly vaporized in the fumes of meddling in Sonny's life. Morgan is still in the hospital as far as we know, and Josslyn was in danger twice when both Franco and Jerry were able to break into her home and grab her baby, but instead of Carly staying home and keeping an eye on her daughter -- Josslyn is….somewhere, with someone -- presumably another incompetent nanny like the ones who let the criminals in the last two times.


A week ago, Carly was sobbing in the car to Jason about how she finally understood what was really important. She remorsefully wished she had been on that bus with her kids where she should have been. But now? Carly has regressed and forgotten about her sick child in the hospital and about her vulnerable baby girl. I don't like this version of Carly. She's always been an "in your face" character, but never quite as shallow as they have written her now. But I love Laura Wright, and she plays the heck out of whatever they write for her. I just hope that eventually tides will turn, and Carly will have something better to do than torment Dante and Sonny.


Secrets aren't secret for long in Port Charles, and now that Carly, Spinelli, and Diane all know about Carly's "proof" that Dante and Brenda have a child, it won't stay secret for long. Many of you have expressed that you believe the child that Brenda gave away belongs to Alexander, not Dante, and that Dante just put his name on the birth certificate to protect the child. Possibly true. If that's the case -- it gives Theo a reason to keep Brenda alive if he's the sort who wouldn't want to murder the mother of his grandchild.


Of course, he might instead be a loon like Anthony Zacharra, who routinely tried to bump off his children. Johnnie is becoming more Anthony-esque each day. Is he really going to give Lisa back the syringe and let her get away with trying to kill Robin? If so, he's going to be harder to root for in the future. In the past, Johnny was a victim of circumstance forced into a dark lifestyle by his father, but who always fought to be an honorable man. If he helps Lisa, he's crossed the line to full-on villain in my mind.


That's a shame because when Lulu finds out Dante had a fling and possibly a kid with Dante and didn't tell her, I anticipated a little Johnny/Lulu reunion, but if he's all caught up with Lisa, I doubt that will happen.


I like the idea of Stephen and Olivia -- assuming she lives through her internal bleeding. All the bus crash victims only got minimal airtime, and by the end of the week, we had regressed to riding the Brenda Express again. As much as I love Vanessa Marcil and the character of Brenda -- I don't want to see her storyline exclusively. Not like I get a vote, just giving my opinion.


And here's another opinion. I think Carolyn Hennesy is a delight, and I'm thrilled she's getting more airtime as of late, but I sure do miss her hunka hunka burning love Max. He must be too busy guarding Brenda to have a romantic evening with his woman.


And since I didn't write last week, I want to shine light on three amazing young performers: Chad Duell, Lexi Ainsworth, and Haley Pullos. As Michael, Kristina, and Molly, they all turned in powerhouse performances during the bus crash and the aftermath. Lexi's scenes in the hospital with Sonny should go into next year's Emmy reel. Molly's post-bus crash meltdown showed that Molly isn't all romantic plans and that she was impacted by the blood and death she saw. I hope we get to see that play out a little more and address PTSD. Finally, Chad Duell has become such a multifaceted performer -- I tweeted this week that when he was recast in the role, there was a universal roar of disapproval because Drew Garrett was so popular. But, no one's complaining now.


Although I still don't understand the reasons ABC abruptly recast the role, they couldn't have picked a better actor for Michael. Chad's ability to go from angry and violent to sullen and scared, all believable and layered, is so raw and real it always tugs at my heartstrings.


What will happen tomorrow, dear readers? Will Morgan wake up in the hospital and find only Jax sitting there to comfort him? Will Brook Lynn have a hair-pulling fight with Liz the next time she shows up at Wyndermere unannounced with Aiden in tow? Will Jason ask for an autographed copy of Spinelli's book? Will the priest at Queen of Angels ever ask the thugs to give him back his confessional booth? Will Siobhan be able to snag a special cocktail waitress green card from the INS, or will she have to marry some poor unsuspecting sucker like Lucky? Will Robin fall for Dr. Terrell before she finds out that Dr. McCrazy brought him to town?

Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.
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