Wednesday, March 09, 2005

General Hospital

Today is Wednesday, hump day of the week. Since I'm a little tired, I thought I would share with a letter campaign that Soap Scope has been putting together to improve the quality of General Hospital.

Soap fans are incredibly vocal and incredibly loyal. We'll follow the career of our favorite actors even after they leave the soap, and we have fond memories of the ones who have left and made it big, like Julianne Moore and Marissa Tomei. We despise actors who put down their soap roots as if it were a dirty little secret or something they had to do to get ahead, the equivalent of having a porn background.

I've been a GH fan since the age of ten. I fell in love with the character of Leslie who was the major heroine of the show, then with her daughter Laura who was the young heroine. Anna, Robert, Robin, Duke, Sean Donely, Tiffany, and Lucy Coe were characters that made me laugh, made me cry. Love stories like Luke and Laura, Frisco and Felicia, Anna and Duke, and then rekindling her love with Robert.

GH right now is the Sonny Corinthos show with special guest appearances by Emily Quartermaine. They are the only two stories right now on the show. Sonny Corinthos, the tortured anti-hero criminal, and Emily Quartermaine, the sanctimonius, sweet as pie, put-upon heroine. Right now Sonny's kids have been kidnapped and the show revolves around his pain, and trying to put him into prison. Carly, his ex-wife, the mother of two of his children, has had pretty much no support apart from her former lover, Lorenzo. Her father is no comfort, he's too busy trying to nail her husband and her mother is MIA, despite the fact that Michael might be dead.

Below is the letter that I sent to Anne Sweeney, head of ABC daytime.

Dear Ms. Sweeney and Mr. Wallau,
I am an unsatisfied ABC daytime viewer, with remote in hand. I am aiming it at another network (CBS), reluctant to switch channels, for now. As each day passes, ABC daytime, specifically General Hospital, offers me little reason to remain loyal. I am a long time General Hospital viewer who can remember when Leslie and Monica were romantic rivals not wallpaper. When the hospital was front and center, when there was more than one storyline to the show. In the past few years, the show has deteriorated out of all recognition to what it once was.
I am hoping you will take our message seriously as Brian Frons has repeatedly chosen to ignore us, and in some cases, mock us. We simply will no longer tolerate this. Are you even aware of what is happening, what has been allowed to happen, to General Hospital on your watch? On Mr. Frons' watch? General Hospital used to be the flagship of ALL soaps on daytime. Under the inept direction Mr. Frons, Mr. Guza and Mr. Pratt, it barely leads the pack on its own network. We are more than tired of "the boys club' mentality that ABC shows in the direction and writing of General Hospital. We seek a "Return to the Basics" not only for General Hospital, but also for all OUR shows on ABC daytime.
We respectfully request, one LAST time:

·Writing for the entire cast, instead of focusing on a "star" or a "core" of the same characters. "Soaps" are all about "ensembles." Instead what we get is the Sonny hour with special guest appearances by Nikolas and Emily Cassadine.

·A return to the formula of "Front Burner and Back Burner" writing, utilizing the entire cast, with timely revolution of those "burners"

·Back-stories and character development for ALL characters. Who is Ric Lansing really? He must have had a life before he came to Port Charles. Let’s find out about his past pre: Port Charles. What does it really mean to be a Cassadine prince? Or to be a working mother with a baby? Throw us a bone here.

·Honor the history of the show. Stop rewriting it to explain the writers narrow minded and unpopular vision. Currently GH is written for an audience of two- Guza and Pratt. Allow this to continue, and that will be your ratings...2 people. The recent storyline of Lucky on life support barely utilized the people in his life who should have been involved. Namely Leslie and Bobbie. I saw more of Emily and Elizabeth than Lucky’s own family. Where was the conflict? We never saw either Bobbie or Leslie testify in court against Luke.

·Curb the overwhelming abuse of female characters and make the shows more appealing to WOMEN and MEN alike. The recent rape of Emily Quartermaine is a case in point. The character has been on a roller coaster ride of pain since her return to the show, starting with the botched breast cancer storyline.

·Stop making a mockery of the police. On Port Charles, the police are treated as little more than buffoons or idiots. And since when does the DA order the Police Commissioner around the way Ric does?

·More diversity in the cast. It’s 2005, and I see more diversity on the evening news than I do on ABC daytime. Give us more than the token Latino or African American character. One upon a time, there was the Ward family. Mary Mae, her grandson Justus and Keisha. Not to mention Taggart, and Simone Hardy. Now Justus is seen once in a blue moon, and the only black cop is an idiot.

·More family and romance. Stop the "hit and run" musical chair love stories. ABC used to be the network of ‘Love in the Afternoon.’ Now it should be called, ‘Violence in the Afternoon.’ Give us a teen storyline that moves us, not one that involves something stupid like Viagra.

·Introduce the next generation, but not at the expense of the previous one. Use the vets to bring them in, and cultivate them. Stop using them for fillers! Shelves are for storing items and materials, not veteran actors. Stop bringing on the same boring character that didn’t work the first three times. I’m referring to Stone, I mean Juan, I mean Diego, the wanna be Latino mobster. How long before you have him singing?

·Hire a continuity person. Port Charles is in New York State. You cannot get a divorce without showing cause, and it takes a year from filing the papers till the divorce is final. You cannot fly from New York to Italy and back in one day. If you open the show with a scene between two people (i.e. Carly comforting Courtney) we should see the rest of the scene. In one episode, I counted at least 3 missing scenes. Bobby calls Carly, says it’s important that she sees her, and then we never see the scene or find out what was so important! John Durant opens the door to someone, who obviously was able to get past Sonny’s guards, and we don’t know who it is. And what ever happened to the Outback?

·More substance, less hype. Give us something to watch. The Fast Forward button is wearing out on our remotes. I have yet to watch an episode of General Hospital where I don’t fast forward through at least half the show.

·Stop the writers from ripping off Hollywood and prime time. If they cannot be original, perhaps new writers are needed. If they absolutely must rip off other work, why not take a look at "ER." No more American Idol on daytime unless you plan on following it through. Brooke Lynn’s career was dropped like a bad penny, and hasn’t been referred to since. After all the show is called General Hospital not General Sopranos. Better yet, pull out old tapes from the Labine and Monty era. THAT IS GH.
The list may look long and daunting, but all you have to do is go back prior to Mr. Guza and Mr. Pratt's tenure as Head Writers and Brian Frons involvement in general, you will see that what we ask is exactly what used to be delivered. Today, we seem to be getting a parody of what was once a great show.

We are making one last effort to reach YOU to fix what Mr. Frons and his head writers went out of their way to break. We, as viewers with remotes in hand, have other options. We hope you will take us seriously in order to prevent us from exploring those options.

Thank you for any and all consideration in regards to this matter.


Elizabeth K. Mahon
A concerned ABC fan.

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