• Read Liz'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
Dear readers, I want to begin by saying that 2013 was the year of General Hospital's salvation. I called Ron Carlivati "Soap Jesus" on more than one occasion because he resurrected a desperate and dying show. After AMC and OLTL went off, I was bracing myself to lose GH, too.
But it was clear from the onset of his arrival that Carlivati wasn't there to put GH out of its misery; he was there to save it. I could tell that he loved GH as much as we did. Everyone who had watched GH for any length of time felt it coming back to life under his leadership, and my mail bag was full of "Finally!" letters where fans raved about the plethora of fulfilling and exciting storylines and beloved characters back again.
I got giddy. I got tingly. I rushed home from work and switched GH on like I used to do racing home from the school bus in the 70s. My husband, for the first time in 25 years, stopped pretending he didn't watch it and would actually look up from his book and comment on it while it was airing.
In short, I fell crazy, madly in love with GH again.
As we ring in 2014, I will be starting my 37th year of GH viewership (that's 1977 for the math-challenged), and I have written the GH Two Scoops column for over ten years now; the archives only go back to 2004, and I don't recall my exact start date. I can't remember a single year in the past decade I loved more than this year.
One of the bests this year on GH was the use of its amazing history. As ratings declined over the years, long-time fans kept saying, "Bring back the actors and characters that were beloved when the ratings were high, and their fans will come back with them." But no one listened. But this year, the powers that be brought back the characters and actors we loved. Some for good, some only for a brief moment, but what that said to us is "They care about the history of Port Charles."
Like a parade of excellence, Duke, Anna, Frisco, Robert, Faison, A.J., Laura, Monica, Bobbie, Lesley, Holly, Stavros, Sean Donely, Heather, Julian Jerome, Lucy, Kevin, Scotty, Robin, Nikolas -- even Richard Simmons -- person after person from the GH hit parade danced into town, and the 50-year anniversary felt real to us, and we celebrated every character's return.
On the "worst" end of the scale was the brevity of some of those returns. For instance, the return of Genie Francis was wildly hyped, but then Laura was barely around long enough to notice. She had one decent conversation with Luke, married Scott, left five minutes later to chase Luke after finding out he was sick, talked to Lucy about reviving Deception, got divorced from Scott, and then randomly went to get a "checkup" in Paris and never came back. Boo. Can you imagine the scenes where Laura comforts Lulu when she lost her baby? Yeah, me, too. But it's just a dream.
Likewise, Jack Wagner's return was far too brief, but slightly more satisfying story-wise because we got a little Mac/Felicia/Frisco triangle action, and Frisco had touching scenes with his daughter Maxie and got one up on Britt for her. But like Laura, Frisco just up and vanished right when it seemed like we were about to dig a little deeper. I was disappointed in the length of their stays but rejoiced that they showed up at all.
But back to the best, and a really big one on the list -- the villains -- the League of Doom, all the evil masterminds in one place, involved in one giant, convoluted, crazy plot -- that was the best. Faison, Obrecht, Jerry, Heather, Stavros, Helena, Julian Jerome -- it could only have been better if Anthony Zachara had been raised from the dead to join them. I loved every campy minute of the villains at play.
It was chaos and mayhem and just plain old soapy fun. Obrecht and her twisted lust for Faison, who couldn't be interested in "ze clamps" because he was too smitten with Anna. I think Kathleen Gati was the absolute best casting decision GH has made in years. What a wonderful find. I adore her. And the sight of Anders Hove thrilled me; I loved him from the early days and squealed when I heard he was coming back. His hair was a little whiter, but one thing hadn't changed -- his obsessive, creepy love for Anna. I must confess, I found myself strangely drawn to him, he's like a less deformed Phantom of the Opera.
And special mention to the masks! Those creepy masks! Oh my goodness -- the Duke mask that Faison used to lure Anna into his confidence, the Anna mask that Obrecht used to break Faison out of prison and that inspired Faison's lustful hopes (eww). It was all twisted and brilliant and oodles of fun.
In the first jaw-dropping villain comeback of the year, Emme Rylan's first big storyline as a recast Lulu was being the frozen bride of the long-presumed-dead villain, Stavros Cassadine, played by the still super handsome Robert Kelker-Kelly. His only good deed was fathering Prince Nikolas. Is Stavros really dead now? Is Helena? Oh, I hope not. Villains have a way of coming back to life in Port Charles.
Case in point, the Jeromes are still alive -- Julian, to be precise, and that's just as preposterous, and I'm so glad about that because, wow, William deVry is pretty, and Alexis needs a man she has chemistry with, and sorry folks, that was not Shawn, in my opinion. Julian is la mobster like Sonny -- handsome, charming, a little bit bad, a little bit good -- and you want him to get away with it half the time and you want him to get arrested half the time. I like it when I'm torn. Also, I find Ava to be a very watchable character; she slinks around town like Jessica Rabbit -- drawn badly and yet has soft spots for her daughter and Morgan, and I also happen to think she'd be a hot bed buddy for Sonny.
There is so much "best of" with GH this year, Dan would have to buy more memory for his website if I listed it all, so some highlights in brief: the resurrection of the Nurses Ball; the Ryan's Hope tie-in (please, do it again!); SORASed Morgan -- I hated it at first, but he grew on me, and it's not just because he never wears a shirt, contrary to Dan's allegations on Soap Central Live. And, in the very best news of the year, soap ratings are up. Clearly I'm not the only one who enjoyed GH immensely. Daytime's death was prematurely pronounced. If you happen to get the TV Guide channel, please, please watch the excellent documentary Who Shot the Daytime Soap?
I'm also glad that despite all the legal negotiations, GH found a way to keep actors Roger Howarth, Michael Easton, and Kristen Alderson on canvas, although I can't say I've been entirely riveted by Easton's Silas in the way I was with John McBain, and the same thing with Franco in relationship to Todd Manning. On the other hand, the Kiki Jerome storyline opened up and drove a lot of plot lines this year, so I guess that one bothers me the least. But should the legal issues be resolved, I would suspend disbelief with no rude comments to get Todd and McBain back.
I know many of you have mixed feelings on this one, but I'm going to take a stand -- I am enjoying the redemption of Britt. I love seeing Prince Nikolas with a real romance -- really his first genuine romance since Emily died, as I don't count his fling with his sister-in-law as romance, or his quirky Nadine dalliance.
Back to Britt…Imagine if your parents were two psychos like Faison and Obrecht. What chance would you have of being a normal and decent human being? Having Nikolas love her is making her better. Britt made bad choices and is trying to rectify them and be better, although she hasn't given Lulu and Dante their baby yet. I predict there will be a health crisis in which she has to fess up to get blood or bone marrow from one of Ben's actual parents and that it will come at a very inopportune moment, like after she has married Nikolas, or after Dante and Lulu impregnate another surrogate with an embryo.
Also on the Tamilu Hit List was the return of adventure -- secret rooms with trap doors, and Tracy busting Luke off of Cassadine Island and stealing the cure from Jerry, and costume parties with masks and secrets, and possibly the best moment of 2013 was Emma seeing Robin at the back of the wedding chapel and running into her arms. It was both new and fresh and poignant and a nod to GH history when Robin ran into Anna's arms as a child, many years ago.
But not everything was sweetness and light.
First, I'll start with big glasses, unkempt hair, and the Ugly Betty-like Sabrina -- for months, we knew that if the girl would just get contact lenses and brush her hair, she'd be pretty cute. Now that we see her hunka-hunka burning ex Carlos, are we to believe he hit on her before she learned to brush her hair? The reveal was fun, but I was getting kind of bored with the whole thing by the time it finally happened.
Next thing that didn't really rock my world was the teen storyline. I guess I got spoiled by having a teen storyline a few years ago with Kristina being abused by Kiefer and seeing real, gritty teen drama -- so T.J. seeing Molly kissing Rafe in the park and doing Taylor in the limo on prom night was kind of a snooze fest and very predictable. This is in no way a reflection on the actors, as I think Haley Pullos is extremely talented and likeable -- but I wish they'd really write for her. The current storyline with her worrying about T.J. and Shawn's mob ties is far more compelling.
I was also unhappy with the limited dating pool for gay men in Port Charles. Felix is the nicest guy, the bet friend anyone could have -- he is honorable and decent and good and loyal. He deserves someone spectacular, but instead, he got weaselly Brad, the slimy lab tech, as his only plausible option for romance. I keep hearing Lucas is coming back to town, and all I can hope is that he is a person of character so Felix at least has one viable option that doesn't involve weasel boy.
One of the more heartbreaking things for fans this year was the departure of Bradford Anderson and fan favorite character Damien Spinelli. We waited for months and months for Spinelli to discover that he was the father of Maxie's baby and anticipated he would forgive her for being an idiot -- as he always does -- and they would have a happy reunion. That never materialized. Instead, we got a one-episode "goodbye, nice to know you" as he left town, and all of their beautiful, messed up history is still hanging in the air, begging to be resolved. Maybe in two to three months, after Maxie's Eat, Pray, Love soul-searching, Spinelli will make a cameo? Here's hoping.
Other things that bugged me to no end:
Olivia and her stupid visions; please, make it stop. Maxie should have kicked the puppy when it showed up at the door, and all this could have been avoided. (No, I am not really advocating kicking a puppy. I love dogs with all my heart. It's a joke.)
Relish. I can hardly even eat it anymore because I started hating it as a condiment after weeks of hearing about it on a daily basis. Was it using GH history? Yes. But was it really just a ploy to end up doing a crossover with The Spew? Yes. Hey, ABC -- we will never watch it. Put OLTL back on, and I'll watch cooking shows on the Food Network when I'm in the mood. So, all Edward left Tracy was a jar of relish, and since it's comeback flopped, Tracy got nada.
A.J.'s years of sobriety down the drain, he's just routinely guzzling tumblers of Scotch. Shouldn't Alice hide the hooch? Next, Liz's bad men choices, she had the option of Nik and instead chose drunken A.J. Next, Cougartown comes to Port Charles with Ava -- played with great charisma by the lovely Maura West, who beds her daughter's husband, Morgan, played by likeable newcomer Bryan Craig. I love the actors, but I hate the storyline. It's just so creepy. I'd buy Ava mentoring Morgan, since he's not close to Carly, who sent him off to boarding school and he felt abandoned, but having them be lovers felt forced.
Even worse was the revelation that after a year of thinking Franco was Jason's twin brother, we discovered he was the secret love child of Scott and Heather. Please. Shortly thereafter, we watched Franco stab Heather repeatedly, twisting the knife, throwing her in a laundry cart at the hotel while Carly took a four-hour-long shower, wheeling her through the hotel lobby where apparently no other guests were walking outside of their rooms, tossing her in a trunk, driving across town, tossing her into an open grave, burying her completely with the dirt beaten down with a shovel, and…she's still alive. Are you freaking kidding me? But even though it's totally unbelievable, I laughed and enjoyed the absolute ridiculousness of it all. That's the thing with GH this year; even the bad was good.
My number one pet peeve for GH this year was the lack of security everywhere. We had serious security failures at Heather's psychiatric hospital, the Metro Court, Sonny's supposedly heavily guarded house, General Hospital and all its labs and empty rooms, the interrogation room at the Port Charles Police Station, the rooftop of the hospital, the visitation rules at Pentonville (really, do you think they'd let warring rival mobsters visit one another in prison?), and finally, whichever airport let Faison, Obrecht, Jerry Jacks, and other known criminals fly to Port Charles. Shouldn't there be an Uber Villain No-Fly list?
But, truth be told, I am glad all the crazies were wandering around Port Charles this year, doing ridiculous things, singing karaoke, dressing up like Beetlejuice, painting sandwiches, and the like because it made for a wonderful year of viewing on General Hospital. To all the writers, actors, and crew of GH -- I salute you for a year of happy soap viewing.
And to you, dear readers, who wrote me letters, and tweeted me all year -- thanks for being part of my life and for reading what I write and liking it and for allowing me to watch GH with you en mass in our giant soapy family.
What will happen in 2014? Only tomorrow knows, dear readers, and I will tune in tomorrow as long as there are tomorrows.
Love to you and yours, and a very happy New Year.
To read Liz's column for the Best of General Hospital 2013, click here.