Deep Soap: James Franco Update & Epic Friday Cliffhangers

by | August 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM | Deep Soap

When is  James Franco Returning to General Hospital?

Early last week TVGuide published a story stating that James Franco would be reprising his role as serial killer Franco on “General Hospital” as part of a major storyline, first appearing on the show’s September 20th episode. Friday, Access Hollywood’s website broadcast an interview with the actor at the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” premiere in which he professed to have no idea when he was returning to the show. Franco said, ““I don’t know if they like think I’m going to fly out on a weekend and shoot something, but I don’t see it fitting into my schedule anytime soon. I’ll go back, but they said like September 20 or something I have no idea what they’re talking about.”

Is the overextended actor confused about his schedule? Is he pretending not to know anything because he considers talking to “Access Hollywood” to be performance art? Or was there a failure of communication between Franco, his representatives, and GH? I asked the actor’s publicist whether he was coming back. She stated, “He will be returning at some point. Just don’t know when as he is currently in production on a film.”  So, tune in to GH September 20th to find out whether Franco indeed appears.

ABC, TGIF

How awesome were Friday’s episodes of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live”? How awesome is it to be able to describe AMC as awesome again? I applauded, cheered and said “Oh my God” at all the appropriate places. Best of all, both ended with major Friday cliffhangers that, judging from Twitter and Facebook, actually have fans eagerly anticipating Monday.  In fact, both ended with the same cliffhanger: long presumed dead character makes presence known to other characters.

Headwriter Lorraine Broderick deserves a medal for crafting the Bad Girls in a Mental Hospital storyline. The scenario: after spending months being held captive by her lookalike, Erica (Susan Lucci) persuades her kidnapper to let her go and leave town. None of her loved ones believe her story about being replaced by a doppleganger. Erica has a PTSD moment and stabs David (Vincent Irizarry) when he refuses to corroborate her story. She is promptly taken to Oakhaven mental hospital. There, she encounters every woman in Pine Valley who has been written off the show by being shipped off to the psych ward. Marian (Jennifer Bassey), Janet (Kate Collins) and Annie (Melissa Egan) warmly greeted Erica. It turns out that Oakhaven is a happy hospital where women spend the days doing arts and crafts and yoga. The dialogue was hilarious, with shout outs to everyone’s past crimes.

Annie: With a knife, no less. Sound familiar, Erica? Gosh, I still can’t get over it — all of the grief I get for stabbing you, and then you turn around and do the exact same thing.

Erica: Not quite.

Annie: So my blade was bigger.

Erica: I’m talking about your sanity — or lack of it.

Annie: Oh. And you’re just, what, taking a tour of Oak Haven today?

Janet: So we would make such a good team, E-Kay, like — like when that time we buried your pill-pushing doctor in your backyard?

Annie: And I’m the psychotic one?

Erica: He was not actually dead.

Annie: Oh. That makes it so much better.

The adventures of the Oakhaven four are hilarious enough to merit their own spin-off. But this is more than just a chance to bring back some fan favorites before the show departs ABC. This story was perfectly interwoven with the Orpheus storyline. It turns out that my wishful thinking speculation a couple months back about David bringing everyone back from the dead is true. Given the number of improbable medical advances that have nothing to do with cardiology that the dastardly doc has been responsible for over the years, this actually seems like a plausible, character driven story.

Dixie (Cady McClain), has awakened from her coma and escaped from wherever David was holding her. Traumatized, she wandered around Pine Valley, where, in classic soap fashion, she avoided encountering everyone who would recognize her except for her son, J.R. (Jacob Young) who was so drunk he dismissed seeing her as a hallucination. Brot (J.R. Martinez) found what he thought was a homeless woman and took her to Oakhaven for a mental evaluation. There was a classic soap near miss as Tad (Michael Knight), there to rescue his mother from an ill-fated attempt to break Erica out of the hospital, stood outside the door to Dixie’s room. Instead, the episode ended with Erica coming face-to-face with Dixie. I am giddily anticipating them comparing notes on David and plotting a great escape.

One Life to Live” gave fans a cliffhanger scene eight years in the making, when Roger Howarth Todd crashed the premiere of “Vicker Man” and came face-to-face with his entire family. The episode was an embarrassment of riches, with Dani (Kelley Missal) having a total meltdown after seeing her boyfriend Nate’s (Lenny Platt) porn movie, Dorian (Robin Strasser) and David (Tuc Watkins) going on a hunt to find their missing film before it ends up on the internet, Rama (Shenaz Treasury) and Vimal reconciling, and Rex (John Paul Lavoisier) contemplating shooting Jack (Andrew Trischetta). I like to think that right now Harrison Ford, who is supposedly playing Bo, is looking at the poor opening weekend box office numbers for “Cowboys & Aliens” and wishing he had signed on to “Vicker Man” for real. But that was just an appetizer to Tomas (Ted King) revealing to John that Trevor St. John’s Todd was actually working with rogue CIA agent Baker as RHTodd managed to escape from Baker’s clutches and show up at the movie premiere as Tomas told the entire Manning family that the man they knew and loved was an imposter.

Tomas: This man is not Todd Manning.

Roger Howarth Todd: I am.

Finally, the truth is out — but the story is just beginning. We have yet to learn who the other Todd is, why he truly seems to love his family, and what Baker’s agenda is. Then there is the emotional fall out, which will impact half of the cast. I complained about the pacing of this storyline, but this scene was a huge pay off. No other television genre can tell a story over such a long period of time that has so much resonance. I am counting the minutes until today’s episode.