As the opening scene of General Hospital's 51st anniversary show unfolded, I began to cry. Just a few tears at first, and then moving into full-on weeping. "Paging Dr. Steve Hardy." "Paging Nurse Jessie Brewer," on up until Monica emerged from the elevator, my eyes were spilling over with big, wet tears.
The thing that people who don't watch soaps fail to understand is that the history of these stories is so rich for us because it's woven into the fabric of our lives. When the voiceover said "Jessie Brewer," my mind jumped back in time to my Mom who called her "Nurse Black Sweater" because she wore this black cardigan for nearly the entire 70s. My Mom is gone now, and that image of her and me in the living room, mocking Jessie's sweater together, made me feel close to her, and I cried for her memory, too.
When they paged Dr. Alan Quartermaine. I remembered when I first started watching GH in the 70s and how heart-stoppingly handsome Stuart Damon was back then. I used to scream at Monica, "How can you cheat on Prince Charming with that stupid Rick Webber?" And I cried for Monica, even though my brain knows she isn't real, because I know Monica has regrets, and I'm old enough to have a few of my own, and I cried for that, too.
The wall of photos paying tribute to the "Ghosts of GH Past" flooded my mind with the power of the stories I have watched for 37 years, and the people I watched them with, and filled my heart with a love I can't explain.
It's a TV show. The characters are fictional. But they feel like family to me. When John Ingle cried and his fictional counterpart Edward Quartermaine died with him, I wept as though I had lost my own grandfather. I thought about the fans of AMC and OLTL who had to watch the final nail being driven into the coffin of their shows, losing all connection to the stories that were woven into the fabric of their loves, and I cried for them, too.
I love General Hospital. It's not a guilty pleasure because I have no guilt about it at all. I love storytelling, and when I say I love GH, I mean I love a well-told story. I like to see the conflict between good and evil. I like to see people wrestle with their consciences. I like stories that celebrate love and honor grief. I like to be moved to laugh or to cry, or to feel anything at all with the power of a written word brought to life by magnificent performers.
I've never seen an Oscar-winning film that made me cry as hard and as long as I did the week B.J.'s heart went into Maxie's body. I've never watched an Emmy-winning documentary that taught me as much about AIDS as GH did when was Stone was dying from it. When my own mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn't lose hope because I had watched Monica beat it on GH, so I knew it was possible. General Hospital has moved me, taught me, inspired me in ways nothing else in the entertainment field has ever done.
I know many of you feel the same because each week my mailbox is filled with your stories about how GH impacted you, so I know you probably got a little verklempt, too.
Also, I want to applaud the sheer writing genius of Ron Carlivati and his team for the brilliant Carlypalooza they wrote into the 51st anniversary episode. Because they made the bold move to integrate all of Sonny and Carly's rich history, using flashbacks from Cary 1, 2, and 4 ( excluding 3, who was only there briefly), we got to see the wonderful Sarah Joy Brown and Tamara Braun resuming their roles as Carly for a day. I absolutely LOVED that.
I remember when Sarah Joy Brown was going to leave, and I could not imagine anyone else playing Carly. I was certain I would hate any recast, and I set my heart against her before she even arrived. And then Tamara Braun walked in, and in four days, I was putty in her hands. I adored her, too. I hated Carly #3, partially because of the unfortunate timing of her arrival, and when she was finally replaced with Laura Wright, I was delighted because she had that Carly fire.
I bet that was Maurice Benard's favorite day at work ever! He got to interact with three of his best scene partners ever, and relive his own history with each of them. Hats off to the writing team for trusting us with that, and if Laura Wright ever quits, I would happily accept either of those two magnificent ladies back as Carly with open arms.
Ghost Emily also made a brief appearance to lead A.J. to heaven, which…well, I guess God has lowered His standards if A.J. got in, but the scene when we saw the whole Quartermaine crew lining the stairs to lead A.J. home made me sob again! Sure, it was just the backs of heads meant to look like Lila, Edward, and Alan, but the imagery was powerful and tugged the strings in my heart just as it was intended to do. Also, I noted the lack of an angel in black leather, which clearly means Jason is still alive, in whatever lab Robin is experimenting on him.
A.J.'s death makes Sonny a murderer, and Carly knows and has vowed to stay silent, which means that Michael will find out and hate both of his parents, thereby forcing them to have comfort sex in the back of a limo and probably create a new baby brother for him.
The flashback scenes of Carly and Sonny helped make this current storyline seem more genuine. When Carly was forced to think back on all the things A.J. had done to her and Sonny, it was easier for her to make peace with Sonny's actions.
Sonny is still laboring under the delusion that A.J. killed Connie, when, in fact, it was Ava, and I'm getting slightly impatient waiting for Ava to get her comeuppance. I want Ava to get caught for something -- either Nina Clay's overdose, Nakamura's death, Connie's murder, Olivia's shooting -- pretty much anything. She's getting pretty high up on the Heather Webber scale of mayhem and unpunished crimes.
I hate to see A.J. killed off, as his character had so much potential, but I don't feel like anyone over the decades ever really wanted A.J. to evolve. He was always written as a two-dimensional caricature and not given any real depth. In my humble opinion, Sean Kanaan will be better served over at The Bold and the Beautiful as Deacon.
Readers, I have a hunch Nina Clay is still alive. I think Donna Mills is a Liar-Lips-Fibber-Face. It is rumored that Michelle Stafford will play Nina Clay, and if you have ever seen her as Phyllis Newman on The Young and the Restless, you will know she is a force of nature. I hope that is one casting rumor that turns out to be true.
Silas and Sam have seemingly swayed Nathan to their side, but his Mommy continues to persuade him that Silas is the culprit who drugged Nina. I can't decide why. It's beginning to look like she did it herself. Why? Was she going broke and found a clause in the will that Nina's loot would go to her if Silas weren't in the picture? Maybe she is secretly Ava's mom. I mean, let's face it, Maura West looks a lot more like Donna Mills than she does Ilene Kristen. Maybe Madeline gave up Ava for adoption or something. I'm trying to use my soap logic to think all this through but haven't landed on a theory that makes soap sense to me yet. Any theories out there you'd like to share?
Moving across town to Elizabeth's house, the comic relief known as Dr. Liesl Obrecht has baby Ben hostage at Liz's house. There are so many hilarious lines Kathleen Gati gets in each episode, trying to quote them would be a full-time gig. She has made Obrecht into a villain who is funny, practical, evil, and yet -- sympathetic and understood. She has made her villain a three-dimensional character, and as such, even when we hate what she does -- which is always -- we can't help but care about her.
Britt now knows Ben's whereabouts, and the only question is what will she do with that info? Instead of heading to Liz's with her car seat in tow, she showed up at the police station; so perhaps she intends to take a shot at redemption by getting the baby back to his rightful parents. I used to hate Britt, but I confess to feeling sympathy for her as this story has unraveled. She is the child of two maniacs and, as such, wasn't really given a strong moral upbringing to know right from wrong. She is learning that as she goes, and this will be the test of her commitment to repentance. If she helps Lulu and Dante get Ben back, is there hope for her and Nikolas to reconcile?
It might take time, but I think eventually Nikolas will be able to forgive Britt. If I had my way, I'd prefer to see Nik with Britt, and Ric with Liz, but who knows what the writers have in store? Nik and Liz have been close since they were kids, and their love is deep, but is it soul-changing? Nik with Britt makes her better. Liz with Ric makes him better. There is something to be said for being the path to someone else's redemption.
T.J.'s mom, Jordan, showed up in town, supposedly under the guise of saving her son, but since she made a beeline to the Jerome Gallery to beg for a job, her motives may be suspect. Over my years of soap viewing, I am always unnerved when I am blindsided with a character that's never been mentioned before. I suppose I knew T.J. had a mom, but she's never been mentioned since he showed up in Port Charles, so it just seems like a cheap ploy to give Shawn a love interest.
What will happen tomorrow, dear readers? Will Jerry Lewis note how well Prince Nikolas answers phone and enlist him for the next MDA telethon? Will Lulu and Dante get to hold Ben before he turns one? Will Britt and Brad become roomies at a place next door to Felix and Sabrina? Will anyone notice that Sabrina has vanished off the face of the earth? Will anyone at all notice that Creepy Luke isn't Cool Luke and do a DNA test? Will Victor Cassadine come back and fall prey to Liesl's seduction to keep her in her chief of staff role? Will Monica finally sell the ginormous Q mansion now that her only roommates are Tracy and Alice?
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