“General Hospital” Delves Into Soap History
“General Hospital” opened up the soap history vaults this week when it featured a crossover to “Ryan’s Hope,” the ABC soap which last aired in 1989. Sam (Kelly Monaco) and Silas (Michael Easton), who were attempting to learn more about Julian (William DeVry), who Sam recently learned was her father, visited Ryan’s Pub in New York City. The pub was the social hub of “Ryan’s Hope,” much like the current Brady Pub on “Days of Our Lives.” There, they encountered Delia (Ilene Kristen), “Ryan’s Hope’s” bad girl, who turned out to be the former lover of Julian’s father, Victor, and quite possibly Ava’s (Maura West) mother. Holy soap crossover! The potential payoff of fan favorite Kristen, most recently seen as Roxie on “One Life to Live,” joining the cast of GH is great. Thanks to the ongoing lawsuit between Prospect Park, producer of the online incarnation of “One Life to Live” and ABC, it is impossible to bring Roxie to Port Charles. Of course, Kristen could simply have played an entirely new character, but that would not have been nearly as much fun.
The weaving of the history of ABC’s last soap standing with a show that went off the air before some GH viewers were born was audacious. It arguably was some very contrived storytelling whose main purpose was exciting the hardcore, longtime soap fans who like to tweet about the show. Someone who was unaware of “Ryan’s Hope’s” existence may have been perplexed as to why the show was spending so much time on a day player recounting a backstory that isn’t essential to the current Jerome family’s storyline.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve got to be honest. I have no idea if the story Delia told about cheating on her then-husband with Victor tracked with the “Ryan’s Hope” timeline. The show was before my soap-watching time. I occasionally watched reruns on SOAPNet and marveled at how different its working class, urban sensibility made it from any other soap opera. It seemed like the daytime cousin to “All in the Family.” From what I’ve seen, I believe that Delia would have had an affair with Victor. A gritty, more realistic mob was part of ‘Ryan’s Hope,” so the Jeromes could have theoretically crossed paths with them. I do think that the 2013 Delia was written very similarly to the kooky, malapropism prone Roxie, which is not surprising given that the same people who wrote for Roxie are now writing GH. Then again, in the past two decades, Delia could have become more like Roxie.
I’m not sure what the long-term implications of Ava being both a Jerome and a Ryan are, unless there is a top secret, completely nonsensical plan to resurrect ABC’s lowest-rated soap from the 1970s and 1980s. GH already has an overstuffed cast and no need to introduce more characters. But I think that this incarnation of “General Hospital” is continuing the mission of the final months of OLTL and making an argument for why daytime soap operas should continue to exist. No other genre could fold events that happened decades ago on a different show into the story. “Grey’s Anatomy” couldn’t have had Alex’s father turn out to be a doctor from “ER.” The two medical dramas don’t exist in the same universe and the audience would call foul. As the sole surviving ABC soap, GH is in a position to be the curator of the network’s soap history and I welcome its efforts to do so.
Happy Halloween from Port Charles
To continue this love letter to “General Hospital,” the show was the only soap to go all out for Halloween — though “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Days of Our Lives” deserve honorable mentions for respectively having Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) dress up like a sexy bear and Ciara wear normal clothes to a children’s Halloween party and say her costume was a girl who hated Halloween parties. GH had nearly every character in a hilarious, character-appropriate costume. I was especially fond of Franco’s (Roger Howarth) Andy Warhol and Faison’s (Anders Hove) eerily dead-on Beetlejuice. The show also gets obscure inside-joke props for having Sabrina (Teresa Castillo) and Emma (Brooklyn Silzer) dressed as “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl,” a campy 1970s kids superhero show which starred “Days of Our Lives” Deidre Hall as Electra Woman and featured Jane Elliot (Tracy) in the recurring role of Cleopatra. I have no idea how either one of them even know about the show’s existence, much less found costumes, unless Sabrina is a closet classic children’s television geek who frequents Comic-Cons, but they both looked great. It required a lot of suspension of disbelief to believe that Olbrecht and Faison somehow found costumes on their way back from Cassadine Island, but I’m willing to accept that there is a giant costume closet at Wyndemere.
There was also a larger point to the costumes. Robin (Kimberly McCullough), in a mask and cape, was able to visit the hospital undetected and will presumably get to see her family. The costume party, which will continue Friday, is actually going to advance the story. I realized when Thursday’s episode ended that I was grinning ear-to-ear. Thanks for the Halloween, Treat, GH.