Deep Soap: ‘General’ Confusion

by | July 28, 2010 at 10:43 AM | Deep Soap

Steve Burton (ABC)

Steve Burton (ABC)

Continuity Gaffe of the Day

Monday’s episode of ‘General Hospital‘  ended with Jason (Steve Burton) holding a gun on Dante (Dominic Zamprogna).  Tuesday, both Dante and Jason were MIA, as were all references to the “Francophenia” art show.  Is the show going to pick them up tomorrow like time stood still?  Did all of the footage from James Franco’s MOCA location shoot turn out so poorly that the producers decided to cut some of it, and the next time we see the duo they’ll be someplace else?  In either case, it made for a frustrating, confusing viewing experience, and I say this as someone with little interest in Jason.  I choose to believe that Jason and Dante spent the hour like this:

Dante: Seriously, man, shooting me is a terrible idea.
Jason stares at him in silence.
Dante: Sonny will never forgive you.  You’ll be miserable without the love of your life.
Jason stares at him in silence.
Dante: If you kill me here, everyone will think it’s performance art and proclaim you a genius.  You’ll hate dealing with pretentious intellectuals more than you hate prison.
Jason stares at him in silence.
Dante: Was that dude really reciting Mad World while dressed in drag?
Jason stares at him in silence, then cracks up.
Jason: That act wouldn’t make the cut at the Pentonville talent show.
Dante: How about we go get a beer?
Jason puts down his gun.
Jason: Do they have beer in L.A.?
Dante: I think so.  It’s probably imported, though.
Jason puts down his gun.
Jason: As long as you’re buying.
Dante: I hope we don’t run into any movie stars.  I hate those self-absorbed jerks.

Structure Returns to Llanview

One Life To Live‘ is bringing structure back.  After a couple of months when it seemed like the show was morphing into ‘Degrassi‘ minus the Canadian accents and the heavy handed social responsibility messages, OLTL is returning to form, sort of.  I cannot say that I enjoy all (or even most) of the plots, but the soap is once again doing what I feel it does better than any other daytime show: structure a story.

Headwriter Ron Carlivati is daytime’s best practitioner of the largely lost soap art of interweaving storylines.  When comatose Evangeline turned out to have hired Eli (Matt Walton) — in his Bennett Thompson days — to draft her living will, I applauded.  It was surprising, especially since it means he is improbably still answering Bennett’s phone calls.  It connected two unrelated storylines.  It also cemented how creepy Eli truly is.  His advice that Evangeline’s mother should honor the living will was genuinely good advice, but it conveniently resulted in the death of the one person who could identify him.

I am still not entirely sold on Eli as Llanview’s universal big bad.  His motivations are not logical.  Pushing Marty down the stairs to divert John’s attention from investigating Melinda’s murder is quite a reach.  How could he have known that he would have caused Marty to miscarry?  But I appreciate the way Eli’s actions impact nearly every character on the canvas.  This is because, even though he is a psychopath, I am sort of on Team Eli.  He is fulfilling my agenda.  I did not want John and Marty to have a baby.  Rex is at his best when he is shirtless and unconscious.  He thinks Blair is the hottest woman in Llanview.  If it were not for that pesky Cramer woman killing, I would suggest Dorian give him a key to the city.

The simultaneous pregnancies of Jessica (Bree Williamson) and Natalie (Melissa Archer) is equally well put together.  For those who have missed the constant flashbacks, Natalie and Brody (Mark Lawson) had a very hot one night stand right before reuniting with their respective loves: John and Jessica.  Meanwhile, Jessica had a brief, traumatic, and questionably consensual sexual encounter with Ford (David Gregory)  right before she regained her memory.  She still is not sure what happened, though the audience just learned that she did actually sleep with Ford.  I am torn about what I want the outcome to be.  Both twins having a child by Brody offers years of story.  Then again, Jessica thinking her child is Brody’s though Ford is actually the father — only to learn that Brody is the father of her twin’s baby, has some sweet irony going for it.   I like that, with the exception of the sleazy Ford, there are no bad guys in this story.  Nobody was cheating when they slept together. Everyone is keeping quiet out of concern for other people’s feelings, not a desire to deceive anyone.  Brody is more excited about being a Dad than anyone in the history of the world.  It’s all he has ever wanted from the day he agreed to raise Shane as his own.  However this turns out, it is going to be heartbreaking for one of ABC daytime’s few true good guys.

The revelation that Ford and James (Nic Robuck)  are Nathan’s (Lenny Platt) half brothers is theoretically well plotted, too.  Nathan unwittingly stealing his brother’s money was a good twist.  Or it would have been, if the show had taken the time to establish who James and Nathan are.  The Salinger/Fords consist of one unrepentant sleaze who has recently acquired a heart of copper thanks to the patented Sonny Corinthos “my father used to hit me,” method, and two blank slates. Now that the show has its structure mojo back, hopefully characterization, logic and balance will return shortly too.