Monday, February 29, 2016

'General Hospital' Knows How to Grab Attention

General Hospital Knows How to Grab Attention
By Carolyn LeVine Topol

Every soap opera goes through periods where some stories explode on the screen and others fizzle out long before reaching their climax. During recent weeks, on General Hospital, this theory has been taken to extremes. Two prominent stories on the GH landscape have elicited polar opposite reactions — one kept me on the edge of my seat and the other nearly replicated the impact of a tranquilizer.

This past week was the perfect example of all this soap does best… as well as some of their choices that make me want to reach for the remote and hit fast-forward.

Having enjoyed GH for nearly 45 years, I’ve been thrilled to watch many of their dynamic storylines. General Hospital’s characteristic engagement of many citizens of Port Charles weaving together in story arcs and then culminating with a nail-biting climax of all at once brings out all the best in this soap. I still remember the Ice Princess storyline of decades past—it was that exciting for its time.

Nancy Lee Grahn and William deVry
This past week the excitement revolved around two events due to culminate simultaneously—the wedding of Alexis Davis & Julian Jerome (Nancy Lee Grahn & William deVry) and the arms smuggling sting on the pier. Utilizing nearly all the featured characters in Port Charles, Paul Hornsby’s (Richard Burgi) ill-conceived sting operation, culminating with a wedding hostage crisis, kept me on the edge of my seat. From gunshots fired at an innocent bystander to Sonny Corinthos’s (Maurice Benard) dramatic leap from his wheelchair to save the day, General Hospital demonstrated what it does best—especially during a sweep month.

The only strange downside to this story arc was the evident abandonment of the entire crime scene, including the military grade weapons. Although it enabled Carly (Laura Wright) and Sonny to have their moment to bond, it was awkward and glaringly inappropriate. However, I can be very forgiving for a few minutes of foolish story-telling when the rest of the story was so engaging.

While the wedding excitement and arms smuggling sting was the stuff that GH has always been known for, their writers are clearly not immune to the occasional sleeper.
Rebecca Budig and Tyler Christopher
Despite the portrayal by two outstanding actors, the Hayden/Nikolas (Rebecca Budig/Tyler Christopher) saga has reached a stage where I can only describe the plot as boring. For a show that lends itself to tempestuous stories, revelations by either Hayden or Nikolas could take place tomorrow and it wouldn’t faze me, having lost my interest. This arc, reminiscent of the interminable “Fluke” storyline, has reached a point where I just don’t care. For a soap with an award-winning writing team, it’s surprising when they do not sense when a story needs to be tied up as it is beginning to disinterest viewers.

I look forward to more exciting performances, coupled with creative and explosive story arcs. In addition, I must praise General Hospital for not only giving viewers an ongoing torrent of turbulent plots, but for continuing to thread romance throughout. Energetic arcs, coupled with tender moments between Julian & Alexis, Sonny & Carly, and Brad & Lucas (Parry Shen & Ryan Carnes), to name a few, illustrate why I continue to watch General Hospital after more than four decades, and will undoubtedly continue to do so for many years to come.

Carolyn LeVine Topol regularly contributes television and web series features to Serial Scoop. Having always dreamed of writing her own version of The Great American Novel, it took her many years to discover her most heartfelt stories took their form in the creation of LGBT romances. Carolyn had one lesser-known passion, her dedication to all things "soap opera". Starting as a child with "Dark Shadows" and "Secret Storm", Carolyn has found a way to keep up with nearly every soap, on every network over the past 45 years!

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