Sunday, September 19, 2010

If I Were the Head Writer: General Hospital

Last night I went out with some friends and we started riffing about what we would do if we were head writers on a daytime soap.  We all know that people are predicting the end of the daytime drama for various reasons, but we believe the genre can still be saved, that it has a lot of life still in the engine.  I'm aware that being a Head Writer is more than just coming up with a story arc for the coming months, they also have to work closely with the Executive Producer and also with the network to get their vision or as close to it as they possibly can on the screen.  Particularly nowadays when the money is just not there the way it used to be even ten years ago. Still we couldn't help playing armchair Head Writer.  These blog posts will be solely on the ABC soaps, since I've been an ABC daytime girl ever since I first discovered ALL MY CHILDREN when I was seven, while home from school with the chickenpox.  I have dabbled over the years with the other shows on both NBC and CBS, but I always come home to ABC, especially now that AS THE WORLD TURNS has been cancelled.  As a fan of the genre for over 35 years, I feel that I have a good handle on what makes classic daytime drama, and I would hope that the networks would listen to the fans.  Some shows do (Days of Our Lives) and some don't (they feel that the fans harsh their flow as creators).  Perhaps some head writers have just been doing the job too long and the shows need fresh blood to keep the genre going instead of recycling the same headwriters among the 6 shows that are left.  Seriously, my friends and I in an hour, came up with at least 15 storylines for GENERAL HOSPITAL alone.  Here are just a few of them.

The first thing I would do as the new head writers for GENERAL HOSPITAL would be to kill off Sonny Corinthos.  Since I'm pretty sure that Brian Frons would not let me do that, then I would create a special one off week of episodes based on Agatha Christies's classic mystery MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.  At the end of the week, it would turn out that everyone killed Sonny because he's ruined so many lives over the past 17 years on this show.

Have Sonny go to jail: Since I can't kill off Sonny Corinthos or recast him with Vincent Irizarry, then Sonny has to go to jail. Enough with everyone else being punished for his crimes.  It's just not enough to say that Sonny is tortured by his life of crime, let's see him pay for it.  No more "Sonny can't go to jail because he's claustrophobic" or "Sonny will never survive in jail because people will try to kill him."  Guess what, he's walking around free, and people are trying to kill him! Let's see Sonny try to deal being behind bars.  They can bring back crazy Anthony Zacchara, and Lanie can volunteer to be the prison psychiatrist.  (We joked about Blackie Parrish, last played by John Stamos as being one of the prisoners since the poor guy has been in prison for the past 26 years!).

Play family relationships.  That's the big problem with this show.  Why is Lulu the only Spencer that Carly ever talks to, unless Lucky is coming to arrest Sonny? Why not have Jax working with Tracy and the Quartemaines on a project, which would bring Luke into Carly's orbit? Perhaps Michael could get a job on the Haunted Star? This show is so lame that they don't even mention anymore that one of the reasons why Jason continues to protect Michael is because Michael is his nephew.  Michael treats Jason more like a family friend then a relative. And why hasn't Mike invited Dante over for dinner to get to know him.  Oh that's right, we don't even know where Mike lives! Is it at Kelly's? Or in Sonny's guest house. Come to think of it when was the last time Mike and Sonny has a scene together? What was the point of bringing on Maya or Brook Lynn if they are never played with the Quartermaines.  Don't even get me started on the fact that none of the Quartermaines ever visited Jason and Michael in Pentonville. And where is Bobbie? Her grandson goes to prison, her daughter gives birth to her new granddaughter and she's missing in action. Apart from Robin and Maxie remembering that they are cousins, family relationships suck on this show for the most part.

Let's see Elizabeth's parents.  It's hard to believe that Elizabeth Webber has been on General Hospital for the past 15 or so years, and we have yet to see Jeff Webber and his unnamed wife show up to visit their daughter or their three grandchildren.  Yet, they brought back Rick Springfield to play Noah Drake and gave him not one but two sons.  Jeff Webber is Steve Hardy's son, his son Steven Lars Webber is now chief of staff, let's see this guy.  If Richard Dean Anderson is not available, then recast. Oh, and remember that Monica is also Jeff's ex-wife while you are at it. Perhaps now Elizabeth can deal with her issues, how she's been trying to create the perfect family because she never had one. Which is why she held on to her relationship with Lucky for son long.

Get rid of the dead weight.  Sorry Jason Cook, but it's time for you to get your walking papers.  The character of Matt Hunter has been on this show for two years simply because Jason Cook and Kirsten Storms once played Shawn and Belle on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.  They have no chemistry anymore, and they never even play him with his brother Patrick.  While you are at it, take Spinelli with you. Spinelli was a fun quirky character like Max and Milo, but now he's annoying in the extreme.

Address whether or not Michael was sexually assaulted in prison.  I find it bizarre in the extreme that they are continuing to dance around this.  Sexual assault in prison is not an uncommon thing. Since Michael is having issues with intimacy, being touched, and sex, let's just put it out in the open.  Have Michael wonder if he somehow invited it, despite everyone's assertion that Carter only attacked him because of Franco. Let him articulate the fact that he might be worrying that he's no gay because of it. My preference would be to have Michael and Kristina find comfort in each other. I know it's a little FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC but Michael and Kristina are not related by blood and they didn't grow up together, so if their feelings became a little inappropriate, I say let's go there. They have both been hurt, physically and emotionally.  There could be lots of juicy fall out from the two of them falling for each other.  If ABC got a little skittish about that, then how about Brook Lynn getting back at Carly by seducing Michael? They are also related but they're something like second or third cousins, so it wouldn't be that gross.

Make the Balkan Caesar Faison:  They keep talking about this mysterious gangster called The Balkan.  Why not make it a blast from the past and have it be Caesar Faison.  They can even bring Robert Scorpio and Anna Devane back into town to help neutralize Faison, since they are both former WSB agents and would know how to deal with international criminals better than Dante or Lucky.  Faison also has history with Luke Spencer. While I'm at, I would rewrite history again and have Ethan turn out to be Robert and Holly's son and not Luke's, giving Robin a much needed sibling.

Mine characters backstory for plot: We know that Robin spent years in Paris but we have no idea what she was doing there.  Here's an idea, bring Bianca over from ALL MY CHILDREN on a business trip to get Jax to invest in Fusion and to get more advertising for the Fusion in Crimson.  While she's in town we learn that Robin and Bianca knew each other in Paris, and in fact once had a relationship.  Bianca can even joke about how she seems to have a fatal attraction to straight women.  Patrick can feel all threatened by the fact that his wife was once bi-curious, and wonders whether now that they are seperated, she might be tempted to hook up with Bianca again.

Play more characters together instead of isolating them. Remember the days when Sonny and Jax used to attend the Quartermaine board meetings since they owned stock? When we used to see Amanda Barrett? Why not have Jax and Sonny involved more with the hospital which would give them an excuse to go to board meetings with the Quartermaines. Why is that Port Charles seems to be the only soap that doesn't have a newspaper or a television station?

Make the women stronger:  Just recently Claire Walsh, the federal prosecutor, who was brought to town by Jax to take down Sonny, became yet another woman to succumb to Sonny Corinthos's charms. In fact pretty much everyone woman in town apart from Diane Miller thinks Sonny is a great guy.  This needs to stop, we need to see strong women on this show, not crazy.  Carly, Lulu, Laura, Elizabeth, and Alexis have all spent time at Shady Brook. What does Alexis do? Wasn't she working with Diane? Some of the best scenes on the show are when Carly is at work at the Metrocourt or when we see Maxie and Lulu working at Crimson.

Nikolas is a Cassadine:  For years, we've been hearing from Helena about how Nikolas is the Cassadine Prince and what great responsibility it is to be a Cassadine but what does that mean? Who are the Cassadines? Why are they so important? Are they related to the Russian and Greek royal families.  One thing the writers forget is that Mike Corbin (Corinthos) is also Greek. Could the Corinthos family and the Cassadine's come from the same island? Let's see what it means to be a Cassadine besides having a grandmother who keeps trying to kill the women he loves.  I would love to see Helena take on Brook Lynn (actually my dream triangle was Edward Quartermaine, Audrey Hardy and Helena Cassadine.  Why not now make it Edward, Leslie Webber, and Helena Cassadine? Then Tracy can freak out about her father dating again. We'll just forget that whole Heather Webber storyline where she married Jed Allen's Edward).

No comments: