I did the unthinkable last week. You see, my computer desk, due
to the way my house is arranged, is in the family room. Since the
computer desk tends to be my place of focus, it has to be strategically
placed in the hub of the home or else, I cannot effectively multitask. If
I can't multitask, there is no Eye on Soaps.
In my old house, I had a closet of an office that was in the bottom of
the U shape of the house. It was yet another hub where I could tune
into almost every part of the house. In that tiny office, I had my
own TV (I have a schedule, don't you know). Since I am now in the
family room, I hold tight dominion over the TV in that room. Mind
you, my kids have their own TVs in their rooms, so they are by no means
deprived. For me, the family room TV is like the radio in the car.
The driver gets to pick the station and when I'm at the computer, I'm
driving the family room. It's sort of like the family room is
my office and the family can hang out in there if they want to and refrain
from bitching about whatever is on the TV or blaring out of my computer
speakers on MP3s. I thought it was a fair arrangement.
A few nights back, my daughter was feeling socially inclined and ambled
out into the family room. My generosity overflowed (this is the
unthinkable bit) and I let her choose what we would watch (never mind the
fact that I had several hundred channels of shit on the TV to choose from
and was actually interested in none of it). There is some
channel on Dish Network that we might as well call The Delena Channel
(it's Noggin at Night, whatever it becomes in lieu of turning into a
pumpkin when the little kids go to bed) in honor of my daughter because it
houses every show she's ever loved with the exception of Buffy and Angel.
This particular evening, her televised drug of choice was a show I had
never seen, "Clueless - the TV series." I never even saw the movie.
She loves it.
I wasn't paying
much attention to it, just hearing the valley speak out of the corner of
my ear. I happened to glance up at one point and my heart fell
through the rest of my internal organs and landed somewhere in the
vicinity of my thinking-of-emptying-on-the-spot bladder. There,
right in front of me, was Joe Freakin Kelly (Doug Sheehan, right).
That's right, the darling of General Hospital from 1979 - 1982. Joe,
who loved Rose from afar. Joe, who loved Anne from afar. (He
was an afar kinda guy who always lost the girl, God love 'im).
We loved him... from afar. But there was Joe Kelly, bigger than
anything, being Cher's handsome father and looking like age was his best
friend in the whole wide world. *sigh*
THEN as I continued watching the show, (with lust building in my heart
and loins for a man I never met, but who lived in my living room for an
hour every week day for 3 years) I was stunned when I saw another of my
dearest lust objects, John J. York (Mac), as Cher's teacher. And he
was acting! And he had LOTS of lines! It was glorious!
How could my primed out, grade A Mrs Robinson hormones handle this
onslaught of male magnificence? I found myself wishing I had
recorded the show (don't know why hitting "record" hadn't dawned on me
when I knew we were watching a cinematic masterpiece like "Clueless ") so
I could watch it again and again. But no, a moment in time and it
It gave me pause to realize how much I've missed Mac and true heroes
like Joe. Joe was not dark, sinister, moody, brooding or criminal.
His father, Paddy Kelly, for whom (follow this if you can) KELLY'S DINER
was named, was an honorable, wise and respected man. He didn't raid
corporations. He didn't have a gambling problem and he didn't kidnap
pregnant women. He wiped the counter and dispensed sage wisdom in
Irish brogue. He married a beautiful young woman named Rose and her
handsome stepson worshipped her (from afar, remember), but respected his
father (and her love for his father) too much to do anything about it
(until after the death of his father). Then Rose Kelly ran Kelly's
until she left town following her failed attempt at a relationship with
Bobbie's ex, Jake Meyer. Why did they fail? Was it because
he'd been brainwashed into believing he didn't love her? Maybe she
slept around and was pregnant by another man? Did his job as a hit
man get in the way? No, he was Jewish, she was Catholic and it just didn't
Then Ruby, the madam with a heart of gold who had pimped out her
teenage niece took over the
Kelly's. But hey, she made good chili, so why should we hold things
like that against her? Like Paddy before her, she wiped the counter,
made good food and gave good advice for many years. Kelly's was the
cornerstone of morality for General Hospital. The hospital itself was a
den of iniquity, but Kelly's was the antithesis. Like the food
served inside, Kelly's was warm and wholesome and good things happened
I think the first bad thing that happened at Kelly's was around the
time Lily's wedding dress burned down. The hospital was pain and
death and suffering. Kelly's was warmth and life. The Floating
Rib was upscale dining for special dates and occasions. The
Campus Disco was a bubbling cesspool of trouble waiting to happen and we
could tell that was the case because the waitresses wore tiny outfits that
almost showed their ass cheeks. That alone told us no good would
come out of that place and sure enough, the rape that launched soaps'
greatest love story (don't get me started) happened right on its dance
floor and not long afterwards, the place disappeared, having accomplished
its seedy goal.
Kelly's changed and bad things started happening there. We had
Sonny and Lily running into cheating Miguel and Brenda on the stairs,
playing their goofy little sex games. We had Elizabeth asking Jason
to hold her and
dance (that first real Liason moment) while she smelled his leather and
dreamed of dead Lucky. Carly saw their closeness through the window
when she was on her way to tell Jason that she had left AJ and they could
finally be together forever, misinterpreted what she saw and kamikazed
right into Sonny's bed, again a pivotal moment that launched a famous
marriage. Later, Liason strikes again when Elizabeth walked right in
on Lucky and her sister, Sarah, happily consummating their lust, whacked
the shit out of Lucky in one blindingly sweet moment (most of us were
about done with Jacob Young by that time) and marched downstairs and out
the door, running right smack into Jason, who had just returned to town
with a very unfortunate haircut. She grabbed him by the... belt and
said, "Let's get out of here." (or something that effect) We thought
we were going to get Liason sex. We didn't. That was a bad
Once bad things started to happen at Kelly's, the whole temperament of
the show changed. Let me show you:
The following is a cast list from the basic time period to which I am
referring. I didn't bother with kids because they all lived at
boarding schools and the like or were off camera urchins. I also am
going with main characters and not people who just flitted through.
Mind you, the above musings and the info below are plucked from my
past-glamorizing little mind (If I research all of this, we'll be here a
week) and is categorized as "As best as I remember it," so there could be
fatal flaws, but as nearly as I can recall, this is the overall lay of the
land for about 5 or so years of GH, around and about the Joe Kelly Years.
(*sigh*) Now as you read this, think about what's different about
this cast of characters and we'll discuss it afterwards.
Denise Alexander as Dr. Lesley Faulkner Webber - A very, very
good person who always tried to "do the right thing" and was cute as a
bug's ear and tended to be a magnet for human tragedy.
Rachel Ames as Audrey Baldwin Hobart Hardy - Started out as a
feisty little scamp of an airline attendant and became GH's Nurse Madonna
and all around blessed mother. Add in all of the Lesley qualities as
Richard Dean Anderson as Dr. Jeff Webber - The hottie doctor, a
really good guy done wrong by his scheming wife, Monica, who was in love
with his brother. Major drama occurred when (*gasp*) she took birth
control pills on the sly while they were supposedly trying to make a baby
(now there's some heavy drama). Jeff had some time of being a jerk
after a head injury or some other, but then went back to being a nice guy
again who was forever getting jerked about by a woman. That's why he grew
up to be McGuyver, who could make a nuclear weapon out of a tampon and
some hand lotion.
as David Hamilton - David was one of our very few really bad guys.
He seduced teen Laura while lusting after her mother, then MOCKED Laura
that she'd never be the woman Lesley was. Laura showed him what kind
of a woman she was and killed him.
John Beradino as Dr. Steve Hardy - Everyone's hero, all around good
guy who always tried to do the right thing and sometimes found himself in
sticky situations where doing the right thing wasn't all that simple.
LoAnne Bishop as Rose Kelly - All around good girl who loved deeply
and faithfully and was wise beyond her years.
Susan Brown as Dr. Gail Adamson Baldwin - All around good
psychiatrist, hurt by the same woman who was vexing poor Jeff Webber.
Young Monica slept with Gail's beloved husband, breaking the heart of her
adopted mother. Gail forgave her (that's just how Gail was) and she
acted as Monica's conscience.
Gail Rae Carlson as Susan Moore - The Town Slut (are we doing Joe
Schmo here?). What Susan wanted more than anything was status and
validation. She thought she got it through a hot affair with Dr Alan
Quartermaine which produced a son, Jason (yes, that Jason).
After a short time of scheming with Scotty, Susan was murdered.
That's what happened to mean people back then.
Norma Connelly as Ruby Anderson - Took over for Rose at Kelly's and
dispensed chili and wisdom. The chili would cost ya, the wisdom was
free. Actually, back then the joke was that they gave away so much
food at Kelly's ("Your money's no good here." "No, no, no, it's on
the house.") that it was a wonder it stayed in business. We all
secretly thought that Dr Hardy was
underwriting the business.
Stuart Damon as Dr. Alan Quartermaine - Tortured young doctor who
fell head over heels in love with that vixen, Monica Webber. We
figured he did the things he did (trying to kill Monica and Rick by
dumping a nursery roof on their heads) because well, Alan was
passionate and Monica drove him to it.
Lieux Dressler as Mrs. Alice Grant - All around good mom who loved her
crazy daughter (Heather) blindly and absolutely and would do anything to
Jane Elliot as Tracy Quartermaine Williams - She's, well, Tracy.
You know her.
Genie Ann Francis as Laura Vining Faulkner Webber Baldwin - Tender,
sweet little blossom who was tortured by teen angst. The biggest
problems we ever saw with Laura was that she was "willful." Oh, and
then she killed that guy, David Hamilton.
Anthony Geary as Luke Spencer - HERE was our truly tortured soul
(Alan was more of a preppy tortured. Luke was dirt poor and
tortured and that was different). The difference was that Luke
knew he was tortured and wretched and never tried to be otherwise.
In some way, even though we could never condone his actions, we at least
understood why Laura, his "angel," was his salvation.
Gerald Gordon as Dr. Mark Dante - Just another really good
Michael Gregory and then Chris Robinson as Dr. Rick Webber -
Dammit, he WAS a really good guy and
refuse to believe otherwise. He was not a killer. He was not a
serial adulterer. He was an isolated adulterer because he was
passionately in love with (guess who?) that vixen, Monica Webber, seducer
of her adopted mother's husband and torturer of Rick's beloved younger
brother, Jeff, her husband, before she got involved with tortured Alan
Quartermaine. Now, Rick was lovingly in love with Lesley, who was
ultimately his wife, but Monica was his instant erection facilitator.
Peter Hansen as Lee Baldwin - All around good guy lawyer.
Sounds rather oxymoronic, doesn't it? Lee was just a really, really
Craig Heubing as Dr. Peter Taylor - All around good guy doctor, a
psychologist, if I remember correctly. Peter tended to marry all
around good girls who needed him. Best friend to Jessie Brewer.
Bobbi Jordan as Terri Arnett - All around good gal who loved Mark
Dante who had a mentally ill wife (Ellie or Millie or something) he
couldn't bear to divorce. She was sister to Rick and Jeff Webber and
a wonderful singer.
Shell Kepler as Amy Vining - Fiesty teen whose only real flaw was
her incessant (and legendary) gossiping.
Georganne La Piere (Cher's sister), then Mary O'Brien, then Robin
Mattson as Heather Grant Webber - Heather was and has always been
absolutely crazy as a bed bug. She plotted, she schemed, she
manipulated and you could see in her eyes that she was just GONE.
She had Jeff Webber's baby, put him up for adoption to Peter and Diana
Taylor where he was named PJ (Peter Jr), became the insane, obsessive
nanny for her own child and put LSD in Diana's drink to make her seem
crazy so she could adopt her own child back again. Ultimately, she
got the baby back (both Peter and Diana died and it was thought for a long
while that Heather killed Diana) and that baby became the prodigal son,
Steven Lars, who is now returning to the fold. It would have served
him well had he become a psychiatrist, but no. (Since characters on
the show now are well aware - presumably - of Heather's history, it amazes
me that she was working as what? A nanny. Now she just snips the
blooms off of Lila's roses)
David Lewis as Edward Quartermaine - This version of Edward was a
good bit different than John Ingle's Edward, but more similar to Jed
Allen's Edward. He was stoic and rather harsh and not much yet given
to the emotionally vulnerable moments that would follow with John Ingle's
reign. His only real softness was with, you guessed it, Lila.
Lisa Marie as Jennifer Smith - Scheming daughter of REAL gangster,
Frank Smith, who was determined to get Luke Spencer to marry her.
Jennifer got hers. She turned into Roseanne Barr and Sally Struthers
in (much) later episodes. Frank got his when Luke shot him in (I
think) Puerto Rico (the same trip as that famous shot of Luke going off
the back of the speed boat in the opening credits). Back then, the
lines were drawn clearly on who was good and who was bad and the bad guys
always got theirs.
Emily McLaughlin as Jessie Brewer - All around good gal nurse who
was friend to all. Jessie held down the fort at the 7th Floor Nurses
Station with wisdom and kindness, but a firm frowning when necessary.
Susan O'Hanlon as Anne Logan - All around good girl nurse who was
famous for being a virgin.
Frank Parker as Paddy Kelly - You already met Paddy. All
around good guy Irishman who ran Kelly's.
Chris Pennock as Mitch Williams - Baaad senator. Bad.
He's the guy that Luke was ordered by the mob to kill on that fateful
night when Laura threw his keys out the window and his best friend Roy
DiLucca took up the torch and went to shoot Mitch. He succeeded in
paralyzing him, but Roy himself was shot all to hell by secret service
guys and presumed dead for 20 years. We loved him then, we love him
now. We miss him. :(
Rahn and then Leslie Charleson as Dr. Monica Webber Quartermaine -
Back then, Monica was in the scheming slut bitch ranks of Susan Moore and
wannabe scheming slut, Bobbie Jones (new kid on the block, but she was
quite good at what she did and showed promise). Monica married Jeff
when she thought Rick was killed in combat (Vietnam), then was shocked to
learn Rick was not only alive, but still in love with her. After
Jeff got fed up with Monica's evil ways, she moved on to a triangle with
Rick and Alan. She was quite an upstart in her day, trust me.
Tristan Rogers as Robert Scorpio - Roguish, handsome WSB agent.
We adored him.
Douglas Sheehan as Joe Kelly - All around good guy as described
Kin Shriner as Scotty Baldwin - Started out as the loving,
honorable, longsuffering boyfriend/husband of Laura Webber, son of Lee
Baldwin and stepson of Gail Baldwin, ended up a scheming, hardened,
embittered cynic by the time Laura was finished with him. Scotty
wasn't bad, he was just drawn that way.
Valerie Starrett, then Brooke Bundy, as Diana Taylor - Our own
Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Poor Diana was
raped by the nefarious Phil Brewer, had her daughter, Martha, die in a car
crash then went through all manner of hell at the hands of nutzoid Heather
and had her husband drop dead of a heart attack. AFTER Diana was
dead, Heather, having found the body first, even dipped Diana's finger in
her own blood to write out Anne's name (trying to frame The Virgin Anne
Logan so she could have Jeff Webber for herself). GH did everything
but kill this woman's dog.
Jacklyn Zeman as Bobbie Spencer - She was a scheming slut in
training back then, laying the groundwork to become a major character of
the following decade. Like her daughter who could come after her
(literally), Bobbie was forever doing the wrong things for the right
reasons in a never-ending effort to "get hers." She unerringly "got
hers" in the hardest way.
Now, having sprinted barefoot thorough the crib notes of the GH cast
for the late 70's - early 80's, let's do a quick overview of our current
cast's heavy hitters and how they are currently written and portrayed:
Maurice Benard as
Sonny Corinthos - Tortured soul with a warped sense of ethics, rampant
double standards and little regard for people around him who aren't "in
the club" of being worthy of his affections.
Tamara Braun as Carly Corinthos - Scheming, subjugated wife who
validates her husband's bad behavior if he's on her good side that week
and goes on the attack if he's not. Tortured by the woman across the
hall who is carrying her husband's baby and by the mystery surrounding her
Steve Burton as Jason Morgan - Unrepentant killer with a soft spot
for babies and damsels in distress.
Leslie Charleson as Dr. Monica Quartermaine - Seldom seen shrew who
barks about home ownership.
Robin Christopher as Skye Quartermaine - Like Bobbie of Old, does
the wrong things for the right reasons. All around damaged person
who reacts impulsively out of pain and is tortured by the demons of her
Tyler Christopher as Nikolas Cassadine - Tortured soul who bears
the weight of his fractured, damaged family.
Stuart Damon as Dr. Alan Quartermaine - A beaten, defeated man
who shows up to pay bail for his children and toss out a comment now and
then in the parlor, which usually go ignored.
Jane Elliot as Tracy Quartermaine - Still just Tracy. A damaged
person, recently showed to be more vulnerable than we thought with
priorities and ethics more twisted than a Gordian knot.
Anthony Geary as Luke Spencer - Who would have thought our intrepid
hero, savior of the world and lauded mayor of Port Charles would turn out
to be an even MORE tortured soul, remorselessly depraved and unable to
love. But we love him anyway.
Nancy Lee Grahn as Alexis Davis - Reduced from quirky and smart to
almost as crazy as Heather Webber. Neurotic to the extreme and
haunted by ghosts of the past. Tortured by her fear that Sonny will
learn he is Kristina's father.
Ron Hale as Mike Corbin - Deadbeat dad tortured by a gambling
Rick Hearst as Ric Lansing - Kidnapped a pregnant woman and held her
captive for weeks, drugged his wife and later was on the brink of
suffocating her with a pillow, consumed by getting revenge on his brother
and torturing all who love that brother. But hey, he's the DA, so he
must be a good guy, right? Right?
Rebecca Herbst as
Elizabeth Webber - Never seen, long suffering, new
Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Everything bad
happens to her. How many times has she been in GH in the past 5
years??? Tortured by the show to the nth degree.
Ted King as Lorenzo Alcazar - Tortured brother with mob connections of
a tortured man with mob connections. Kidnapped, stalked and obsessed
on one woman despite her desperate pleas to leave her alone.
Wallace Kurth as Ned Ashton - Hard driven businessman who tortures
himself by denying his deepest wish to again follow his bliss as a rock
and roll star. Enjoys sex with former relatives and firearms,
preferably in public places.
Natalia Livingston as Emily Quartermaine - The panacea for all that
ills anyone in Port Charles. The golden, blessed child who walks on
water and can't respect anyone's privacy or confidence. Also cannot
speak without injecting "um" or "uh" into the sentence.
Kelly Monaco as Samantha McCall - Few vixens on GH have slept with two
men (willingly) on the same day without a wash up in between. She
forced Jax to be late in saving his father's life with the magical lucky
hand of cards and has suffered multiple failed attempts to leave PC.
Tortured by the secret that her brother accidentally killed their mother.
Cynthia Preston as Faith Rosco - Crazy and lovin it, this grandma
killer is an unrepentant psychopath who tortures everyone around her.
Ingo Rademacher as Jasper "Jax" Jacks - Suffers from some kind of
psychosis that will NOT let his personality remain consistent in any way.
Waxes from romantic and sexy to cruel and vicious in the blink of an eye.
I think I was married to him at one time.
Constance Towers as Helena Cassadine - Unmitigated, unrepentant
source of all evil.
Greg Vaughan as Lucky Spencer - Can't determine, really. They
keep him stored in the props closet and drag him out with the lamps and
fake food for a scene now and then.
Catherine Wadkins as Mary Bishop - Another insane woman, tortured by
the memory of her dead husband to the point of recreating him in another
Alicia Leigh Willis as Courtney Morgan - With Mac, the only character
whose description can possibly begin with, "All around good _____ [fill in
John J. York as Mac Scorpio - He was a bad guy, but by the time we
met him, he was utterly repentant and cute as hell and a stand up guy.
He'd the other half of the bookend set from Courtney.
Jacklyn Zeman as Bobbie Spencer - Went from hellish scheming slut
to community wise woman to the back of a Port Charles milk carton.
Tortured by her prostitute past and lack of screen time.
I think the comparison of the two sets of characters makes my point
better than I ever could (but hey, I never let redundancy stop me).
Still, let's hone a fine point on this big ol' pencil and get clear.
Back then, one of the most compelling factors about daytime drama was that
the people we watched were engaged in HUMAN drama on a grander scale.
They were still prettier than we were and their circumstances were
certainly more extreme than any we (usually) experienced, but the key was
that we could relate to what the characters were experiencing in some kind
of realistic way. Sure, there was the occasional Sword of Mulkuth
added to the mix for texture, but overall, we were captivated by realistic
situations played out in an exaggerated fashion, still within the realm of
possibilities for the average person. It might be unlikely, but it
The characters, as a rule, were good people to whom catastrophic things
happened with a villain tossed in here and there to provide a human
antagonist. It was the seasoning, not the whole meal. Now, we
have a group of crazy, depraved, deplorable people who show signs of
humanity from time to time. Being "good folk" is the exception
rather than the rule and seeing a character's "good side" is a rarity and
warrants much pointing and oohing and ahhhing. How many shows can
boast a full list of characters to whom you can appropriately apply the
word "tortured," either on the giving or the receiving end? Is it
any wonder that we are watching a show to which we can no longer relate on
a personal level? GH is a world of bad guys and insane people!
Men are required to be dark and brooding and felonious and women must be
crazy, absent or vapid. There is no human emotion through which we
can live vicariously and what happens on our screen pertains to our lives
no more than your garden variety science fiction story.
To further the distancing between soaps and fans, we get this HORRIBLE
"Wide World of Soaps" or whatever this mess is with The Bachelor.
Evidently, being Mrs. Rebecca Budig has its benefits because no other way
could a premise as bad as this be given legs to walk.
It was tasteless enough to have us watch Lesli Kay's ample bosoms being
wonder bra'd out into the brave new world from the confines of her skimpy
top (shall we just drop all pretenses and start referring to her as
"Tits?"), but we also got to witness a blatant smack in the face of
veteran daytime drama, Days of Our Lives. I'd always thought of ABC
as taking the high road, even through some of their marketing disasters
(*cough* Shop the Soaps *cough*). The marketing misses could be seen
as just poor judgment, but the DOOL smack down was just a really low blow.
"Another show on another network in which a blonde spend
DAYS *winkwink* and DAYS *winkwink* ravaging a town, only to
find that she didn't do it after all and they weren't really dead and were
living on an island somewhere and now no one knows what's going on" or
something to that effect, followed by assertions that "ABC would NEVER do
THAT to their viewers." (I'm paraphrasing, gimme a break) As
if the direct attack wasn't bad enough, this happens during the time that
the summer Olympics are airing on NBC, soaps on NBC are pre-empted and the
DOOL fans are very likely roaming around the channels. "Welcome to
ABC. By the way, your show sucks."
Between the near elimination of the aggregate and individual
decency and sanity of its characters, coupled with this juvenile attack of
a respected soap on another network, I ask you, can ABC Daytime stick its
fat, hairy, pimply, old man ass any further out of its boxer shorts and
perhaps wave it around a bit more?
Personally, I don't think so.
At least I hope not.
Time for your close up, Mr Frons