Deep Soap: Credit Where It’s Due

by | February 24, 2010 at 11:30 AM | Deep Soap

(ABC)

(ABC)

Zaprudering the New General Hospital Opening

Our long national nightmare is finally over.  In honor of the show’s 12,000th episode, General Hospital debuted a new opening sequence.  For years, fans have been complaining about how many former cast members have lingered in the credits while numerous newer characters have never been added.  After repeated viewing, I give the new credits an A-.

I like the way the new sequence puts both the actors and characters names in the opening credits.   Daytime stars deserve just as much recognition as their primetime counterparts.  Including the character names provides a quick rundown of the current roster for new and infrequent viewers.  Fans are predictably attempting to make inferences about character and actor statuses based on the order of the credits. It’s not surprising that Maurice Benard gets the opening spot, followed by Laura Wright (Carly) and Steve Burton (Jason). Whether or not every fan likes it, they are currently the lead characters on the show. Tony Geary closes it out.   He is still the show’s best known, most Emmy award winning actor. He has plenty of clout and quite possibly contractual stipulations that mandate high profile placement.   Geary is once again walking away from the camera, in what is either a stylistic closing flourish or an inside joke about his frequent vacations.  The credits are otherwise logical, with actors grouped by romantic and familial pairings.

Like most newer credit sequences, GH’s has a little bit of a clip art feel with actors photos juxtaposed against some simple backgrounds — the hospital, Wyndemere’s exterior, Port Charles’ surprisingly high-rise filled skyline.  I have read a few complaints that they seem generic.   In order to make the credits easy to update, they need to be.  The reason GH’s credits got so out of date is because they were prohibitively expensive to change.  Think of the number of times they would have had to assemble the entire male cast to redo the closing tuxedo shot. (Don’t think about why there was not an equivalent shot of the show’s actresses.) Now it will only take an editor a few minutes to add or remove actors.  The biggest surprise: Sonya Eddy (Epiphany) must be under a long term contract, since she was included.  Notably missing:  Brianna Brown (Lisa) and Christian Alexander (Keifer).  Perhaps their characters will not be around a year from now.  Congratulations, GH, on this exciting new chapter.  I look forward to no longer seeing dead characters every afternoon.

Not So Black And White

The always controversial Victoria Rowell, ex-Dru The Young & The Restless, gave a doozy of an interview to TV Guide Canada’s Nelson Branco.  She criticizes the current Ashley-Neil romance saying, “The thought of Neil and Ashley hooking up brings to mind the unlikely combo of a harpsichord and didgeridoo. [Chemistry] is more than swapping spit, folks. It’s called timing, organic, character-driven storytelling, and tenure. Minimize it all you want, but Genoa City’s black history can’t be erased.”

I couldn’t disagree more. I find Neil and Ashley’s relationship to be both organic and character driven.  She is the first woman Neil has had chemistry with since Dru left the show.  I am also getting a huge kick out of how much seeing them together bothers Victor.  I do not think pairing Neil with a white woman is an attempt to erase his ethnicity.  Of course I would like to see more diversity in daytime not only because I think the casts of the shows should be as diverse as its audience, but because it makes for more interesting storytelling.  I would certainly like to see Y&R rebuild the Barber and Winters families.  I assume that bringing back the character of Malcolm was an attempt to do just that.  But I am glad that daytime has finally stopped romantically pairing its minority characters solely with other characters of the same ethnicity.  It was backward and, worst of all, boring.

However, Rowell’s blunt talk made me wish that daytime characters spoke more openly and honestly about race.  People do it all the time in real life.  The One Life To Live scenes where Fish’s parents were surprised to learn that his then-girlfriend Leila was black were realistic, if a little heavyhanded.   I can imagine Y&R’s Olivia having a frank conversation with Ashley about how much it frustrates her to see white women “stealing” high achieving black men — and it bothers her even more when her best friend goes after a man she used to love.  It’s the sort of highly charged topic that Oprah tackles all the time.  Anyone who has ever felt pressured to date within their specific ethnic or religious group would relate.  This is Black History month.  It would be nice if soaps acknowledged it by daring to get real about race.

Olympic Omission

If you’ve been watching the Olympics, you are undoubtedly sick of NBC’s incessant promos for the upcoming Marriage Ref and Parenthood.   I swear, if am forced to ponder why Alec Baldwin is qualified to give marital advice one more time, I am going to flip the channel and watch a 90210 rerun.  Here’s what I would like to see: a few promos for Days of Our Lives, one of the network’s few success stories.  You would think the network could spare 15 seconds to promote the only soap opera growing in the ratings. It is especially galling because, at least in Los Angeles, there are promos for El Clon, a Spanish language telenovela airing on the NBC/Universal owned Telemundo.   Admittedly, El Clon sounds amazing. It’s the remake of a Brazilian telenovela about drug trafficking, the romance between a Christian man and a Muslim woman, and… human cloning.   I bet they’ll make it work better than Guiding Light did, since it’s part of the show’s premise.  The ads point out that there is English close captioning available, so those of us who were impractical enough to study French instead of Spanish can enjoy it.  But it seems so wrong to advertise soaps that air on other channels instead of DOOL. Come on NBC.  Show a little love for the soap that is thriving on your network despite your best attempts to kill it.

Lines Of  The Week So Far

Best line of Monday February 23, 2010: “The Three Stooges on crack could have come up with a better plan.” – Victor Kiriakis, Days of Our Lives on Vivian’s attempts to kill Melanie with a poisoned comb.  This line is just begging for a You Tube mash-up of Vivian and The Three Stooges.

Runner up: “I thank God that you weren’t there.”  Dante to Sonny, General Hospital echoing my belief that violent criminals make lousy parents