• Read Tamilu's column for the Best of General Hospital 2013.
• Listen to our special two-part year-end podcasts: The Best of 2013 and The Worst of 2013
I love General Hospital, more so this past year than I have in a very long time. For that reason, it's not easy to point to something and say, "That is a worst moment," because the worst of this year is far better than some of the best in some other recent years. The truth is, I consider them to be more missteps than anything else, and missteps are expected when you have a long trek up the ratings mountain. If it was easy to get to the top then everyone would be there.
Let me start with the best. The best part of General Hospital this year has been head writer, Ron Carlivati, and his writing team, who are being wisely guided by their Sherpa, Frank Valentini.
I've seen some people rip Ron Carlivati apart on a few message boards, but it's impossible for me to take anyone seriously if all they spew is vitriol. It's clear to me that those who do nothing but complain simply enjoy complaining. After all, they continue to tune in each and every day to watch, so if the show were truly as awful as they claim then why are they spending five hours a week watching and countless hours more griping? Answer: they like to complain.
I am not one of those people. When things were bad on GH -- and they were -- I always found something that I liked. That is why I continued to watch. Luckily, there is a lot for me to enjoy these days.
Over the past year, General Hospital has become must-see television for me. Ron and his team have infused GH with juicy plot twists, witty dialogue, and lots of action and adventure. Judging by the ratings, I'm not the only one who feels this way.
The kidnapping and return of Robin Scorpio Drake took two years to play out, but what made this story one of my favorites is that it was an umbrella storyline that ushered in the return of super-villains like Jerry Jacks, Cesar Faison, and Helena Cassadine, whom Luke cleverly dubbed the League of Doom. It also heralded the return of fan favorite Duke Lavery and the demise of Jason Morgan and Bernie Abrahms.
Additionally, it proved that you can still surprise the audience in this day and age when the Internet is saturated with spoilers.
One of my favorite parts about the storyline is that it gave us a unique glimpse into Robin's captivity over the past couple of years. When Lucky was written off of the show in the fire that supposedly killed him, we discovered that he was alive, but we did not see him until the character was recast for a return. It was left to our imaginations, based on what Lucky said, to fill in the blanks about what Lucky had endured during the nine months he was Helena and Faison's captive.
Not so with Robin. We know that she was kept a prisoner in various sanitariums, was drugged, and even underwent electroshock therapy before being forced to work in a lab to find a cure for Jerry, who took pleasure in tormenting her with updates about her husband and daughter. We also know that she never stopped fighting to get back to her family. That is why I'm able to empathize with her frustration at not being immediately reunited with her family.
Ultimately, Robin's kidnapping was the story that just kept on giving. If it weren't for Robin's "death," we wouldn't have been treated to the Nurses Ball this year, which was one of my favorite moments. Who will ever forget the ode that the hunks of GH made to Magic Mike; Obrecht getting her groove on to Epiphany's Jump; or Alexis, Bobbie, and Anna dancing as Rick Springfield sang Jessie's Girl? And beyond the performances was the grand finale when Britt marched up on stage and announced that she was pregnant with Patrick's baby, which led to immediate speculation by fans that Britt stole Dante and Lulu's frozen embryos so she could pass their baby off as Patrick's child.
As a soap fan, I live for moments like that.
I also loved the 50th anniversary returns. I know that some were disappointed because characters like Frisco didn't stick around, but I wasn't one of them. I wouldn't have bought it if Frisco had suddenly had an epiphany about his family being more important to him than saving the world because it would have not only seemed too little too late, but insincere. Like it or not, Frisco is an adventurer; it's in his blood and nature, which is why he had abandoned his family decades earlier. I learned to accept that long ago, and I forgave him.
I was satisfied that Frisco acknowledged the mistakes that he had made and showed genuine regret for letting so much time slip by without reaching out to his children. He missed his opportunity to make peace with Georgie, but not with Maxie. At least this time around, Frisco is staying in touch with Maxie on a regular basis, and that's good enough for now. Besides, Maxie and Georgie didn't grow up fatherless; they had Mac.
One of my other favorite storylines this year was the return of Julian Jerome, who was joined by his diabolical younger sister, Ava.
I only have a vague recollection of the Jeromes when they were first in Port Charles during the late 80s and early 90s because I was young, single, and focused on my career. I would catch GH when I was off from work or remembered to program my VCR, but I wasn't exactly a loyal viewer at that time. I think that's why it's easier for me to cut Julian some slack versus someone who had been an avid viewer during that time and remembers all of the horrible things that he did before he entered the WSB's witness protection program.
I realize that Julian is in town to take Sonny down, but that doesn't necessarily make Julian a bad guy in my book. After all, Sonny is a criminal too.
The truth is, Sonny needs to have an adversary, not just to give the character something to do when he's not seducing women, but also to add a little realism to things. It wouldn't say much about Sonny's territory if no one was interested in taking it from him.
I absolutely adore sexy William deVry, and I think that Maura West is positively divine as Ava Jerome, so I want these two to stick around for a long time. I realize that Ava was the one who likely murdered Connie and shot Olivia on the balcony, but that's the way things roll in the mob.
Not too long ago, I likened Ava to a mixture of Helena Cassadine and Faith Roscoe with a little bit of Claudia Zacchara thrown in to spice things up. Nothing has changed; I still see her that way. Ava is beautiful and deadly, yet has a vulnerability about her that I find fascinating. If Sonny can avoid a conviction for all of the crimes that he's committed over the years, then I don't see any reason why Ava and Julian couldn't do the same.
Finally, one of the biggest improvements to the show over the past year was a return to a balance of storylines. We were no longer saturated every day with the same group of people doing and saying the same thing as we had been in the past. These days, the show will spend a few days focused on one set of storylines before ending with a cliffhanger and then moving on to the second block of storylines. As a result, I'm left waiting on the edge of my seat eager to know what's going to happen next.
Last year, the standout scene for me was Edward and Lila ascending the staircase on Thanksgiving as they made their way to Heaven. This year, it was Emma looking up during Patrick and Sabrina's wedding ceremony and seeing Robin.
It was beautifully written and incredibly moving. I wept as Emma ran into her mother's arms and as Robin hugged her daughter tightly and quietly whispered, " Hi, baby. Ohh. Oh, it's okay. Mommy's here." It's proof that exceptional scenes don't always need long-winded dialogue to convey an emotion or thought. Sometimes, less is more, especially if it's in slow motion.
Now, for the not-so-good moments.
The first was the exit of John McBain, Starr Manning, and her father, Todd. I don't really blame the writers for this fiasco. More than anyone, I blame Prospect Park. Who "loans" out three major characters that are supposedly critical to the re-launch of a show? I get that Prospect Park wanted to keep viewers interested in One Life to Live, but someone had to have foreseen that the actors would not want to leave a show that has been around for 50 years to work for another show that was run by a group of people who didn't seem to know what they were doing from one day to the next.
Actors are like everyone else. They want job security because they have families to support.
Unfortunately, it was the General Hospital fans that paid the price for Prospect Park's lack of foresight. The GH writers were forced to send the characters packing in quick order, so three storylines were abruptly halted, leaving viewers with a kind of visual whiplash.
A few weeks later, three new characters were introduced. Of the three, I liked Silas Clay's story the best. It was interesting, and most importantly, it added another doctor to the canvas, which was one of my chief complaints about past regimes. The show is called General Hospital, so the focus of the show should be the lives of the doctors and nurses who work at the hospital -- at least to some degree. That is something that Cartini seems to understand better than the last few writers and producers.
The Franco twist is something that I'm willing to accept simply because I love Roger Howarth. However, I was not pleased that the Quartermaine family took another hard hit when the two newest editions to the family were quickly un-Quartermained. Although Franco being the son of Scott Baldwin and Heather Webber makes more sense, given his personality.
The character that I can't warm to is Lauren Katherine "Kiki" Jerome. It's not Kristen Alderson. I've been watching her since she was a little girl on One Life to Live, so she holds a special place in my heart. My issue is the character that she's currently portraying.
There doesn't seem to be any real purpose to Kiki beyond being arm candy who jumps from one brother's bed to another's. Her greatest skill to date seems to be putting together poker games. She's a rude freeloading hypocrite with the morals of an alley cat and a sense of entitlement that I find baffling. She got close to Franco, the serial killer with a brain tumor, when she thought that he was her father, but she seems to have an issue with Silas, the doctor who hates her mother almost as much as she does. I have no idea why she's hated her mother from the onset, and truthfully, I no longer care. These days, even her name is annoying to me. It's like nails on a chalkboard every time that I hear it.
My hope is that Kiki's identical twin sister is hired to take Ellie's place in the lab and that the shock of seeing her makes Kiki spontaneously combust. Heck, I'd be happy if Casey the alien popped in for a quick reunion with Robin and then abducted Kiki before heading back to his home planet.
I'm also not fond of Morgan Corinthos, but he's a legacy character who I've watched since his conception, so I don't want him to be written off...yet. I think Morgan is fixable, but first they need to surgically remove that stick up his rear end.
I get that Morgan is jealous because he thinks that Michael is his parents' favorite, but I can't find any sympathy for the kid because he's using that as an excuse to do some very deplorable things. Things that can get his father killed.
I have two siblings, so I have not been immune to the green-eyed monster on occasion when I was younger and thought that my parents were favoring one of them over me. However, as jealous as I might have been, I would never in a billion years have tried to punish either one of my parents by putting them directly in the crosshairs of a killer.
That is exactly what Morgan did when he aligned himself with the Jeromes and planted a bug in his father's office. And why did Morgan do that? Because Michael got to stay in Port Charles, while Morgan was shipped off to military school. Never mind that Michael was shot in the head and lingered in a coma for a year, during which he aged five years, and then was sent to prison where he was violently raped. The bottom line is that Michael was eighteen when his mother decided to ship Morgan off to military school in 2011.
Another misstep this year was the pickle-relish debacle that included a taste-off on the show that shall not be mentioned, but rhymes with The Spew. I don't know whose idea it was, but it was a monumentally dumb one. Watching the Quartermaines battle it out on a show that replaced All My Children was like rubbing salt into the wounds of soap fans who lost not one, but two beloved soap operas just months earlier.
However, my least favorite storyline this year was Maxie's decision to lie about miscarrying Dante and Lulu's baby and then deciding to pass off her own baby with Spinelli as theirs.
My main issue with the storyline was that I felt that Maxie's reasoning had been selfish, not altruistic.
Let's start with the miscarriage itself. Maxie was about five minutes pregnant when a random Jackal-like dog that hasn't been seen since ran into her apartment and caused her to trip and fall. Maxie didn't fall hard enough to skin her knee or get a bruise, yet she immediately complained of cramping and dashed over to GH where she was told that she had suffered a miscarriage.
At the time, Britt made it clear that first trimester miscarriages were, sadly, not uncommon and that the miscarriage could have been caused by any number of things. Maxie ignored that and decided that it was the fall that had caused her to lose the baby, even though there was absolutely no evidence to support this.
Next, Maxie, in her heartbreak, ended up seeking solace in Spinelli's arms just hours after being told that she had miscarried. This is when she got pregnant with baby number two. It's certainly possible to get pregnant within days of a miscarriage, but I've never heard of a woman conceiving a child while actively miscarrying another child.
However, this is a soap, so I was willing to suspend reality a bit for dramatic license.
The crux of my issue with the storyline was the excuses that Maxie made to justify lying to everyone. She repeatedly claimed that she didn't want Dante and Lulu to realize that they had been right not to trust her to carry their child. Additionally, Maxie decided to keep quiet because she had realized that Spinelli had moved on with Ellie.
It seems to me that Maxie was more concerned about looking bad and being rejected by Spinelli rather than doing the right thing for three people whose only mistake had been to trust Maxie.
This storyline made Maxie look incredibly bad and selfish, which was a huge disappointment because I had just started to warm towards Maxie after years of not liking her very much. Worse, when the truth finally came out, not only did Dante and Lulu suffer the heartbreak of losing the child that they had bonded with and loved, but also the one that they hadn't realized they had lost. It was incredibly sad, but rather than show them compassion, Maxie twisted the knife by expecting them to hand over her baby when Spinelli admitted that he wanted to be a part of his daughter's life, even if he wasn't in a relationship with Maxie.
I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but it's going to take quite a bit for me to warm to Maxie again. It helps that she's currently paying the price for her sins by not being allowed to see the baby, but it's going to take time and some real growth on her part for me to even consider giving her another chance.
Perhaps after Kirsten Storms has her baby in real life, the writers can spring Johnny from jail -- and by that I mean re-hire her real-life husband, Brandon Barash -- and explore a relationship between Maxie and Johnny. Even though they had only flirted with an attraction to each other, I had always thought that Maxie and Johnny had more in common than Maxie and Spinelli and certainly oodles more potential.